Speaking for the first time since defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned on Wednesday, Bears coach Matt Eberflus stuck to the same script as the rest of the organization Friday — acknowledging Williams’ departure but offering little if any sentiment of well-wishes for a close colleague who left the team for health and family issues.
“Obviously, I was with him for four years, five years [including] here,” Eberflus said. “I have a lot of friendship. I have feelings for him. But … he’s resigned, and it’s for health and family and we’ll see where it goes from there. I have feelings for Alan Williams, of course.”
The Bears’ organization from top to bottom has notably treated Williams’ resignation as if it were toxic, with players and coaches in particular offering little to no sentiment of well-wishes or appreciation for him after his exit.
But when asked about how Williams’ sudden departure affected him personally, Eberflus indicated he or someone with the Bears had offered support to Williams since his resignation.
“We’re all coaches and coaching families are. You move here and you move there, you’ve got to be a tight group,” Eberflus said. “So we just reached out for support, and that’s where it is. It’s personal, and we left it at that. We just said, ‘If you need anything, we can help you. Let us know.’ ”
The Bears on Wednesday released only a terse statement regarding Williams departure — “Alan Williams submitted his resignation as the team’s defensive coordinator this afternoon” — that notably and oddly lacked well-wishes for his health and appreciation for his contributions to the organization that usually would be expressed in a situation like this.
“I wouldn’t read into that,” Eberflus said. “It’s personal. So people are respecting that and respecting space, I believe. That’s what I believe it is. It’s no disrespect to the question. It’s none of that. That’s where it is.”
Eberflus said he talked to the players Wednesday afternoon after news of Williams’ resignation broke. “And told them, ‘Hey, this is what it is,’ ” Eberflus said.
Eberflus said he would take over Williams’ play-calling duties, presumably for the rest of the season, with nobody filling an interim coordinator role. “The defensive staff is going to stay intact where they are,” Eberflus said. “It’s the best thing for our football team and for our organization.”
The Williams saga was part of a particularly tumultuous week at Halas Hall. Also on Wednesday, quarterback Justin Fields publicly expressed frustration with his playing style — saying he was robotic, feeling too confined to the pocket and indicating he was being over-coached.
The two stories were enough of a distraction that general manager Ryan Poles held a news conference Thursday to address both issues.
The Bears are 0-2 after a pair of disappointing losses to the Packers and Buccaneers, starting left tackle Braxton Jones was put on injured reserve and the Bears play the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs and reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Eberflus, a first-time NFL head coach, was confident the commotion would not -affect the team.
“I told them every day after practice, ‘Lean in and lean on each other,’ ” Eberflus said. “We’ve been spending time building relationships with each other, and that locker room is tight. You can see it in the way they practice, and we’re just going to keep pounding the rock.
“That to me is really good. How they practiced today and the energy they had tells me everything about the bond they have and the relationships they have as partners, as teammates in the locker room.”