What Bears DC Alan Williams learned from Tony Dungy


Coaching trees are serious business in the NFL. It’s how schematic philosophies are passed down from generation to generation. It’s also how young coaches learn how to lead a team. So it’s no surprise that when any new coach accepts a new job, one of the first things he does is thank the mentors who helped him reach new career milestones. For new Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams, one of those men is former Colts and Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy.

“He’s the one I got into the NFL with, big time mentor to me,” Alan Williams said in a recent interview on the Bears YouTube channel. “In every situation, when something comes up一 challenging or good situation一 I always think about how coach Dungy would handle the situation.”

Dungy was also a major mentor for former Bears head coach Lovie Smith. He gave both Smith and Williams their first opportunities as coaches at the NFL level in Tampa. For Smith it was as a linebackers coach in 1996. For Williams it was as a defensive assistant in 2001.

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But the biggest thing Williams took away from working with Dungy had nothing to do with scheme, or playing defense at all.

“He would say that the NFL is a people business, and it’s all about treating people well,” Williams said. “So, when I was a new dad, one of the things, I read a book, it talked about rules without relationships lead to rebellion. We’re going to ask our guys to do some really difficult, really hard things. When a player knows that you care about them, when a player knows that you’re interested in them, more than just the Xs and Os, they’ll go to battle for you. They’ll do what you ask them to do if they know what you’re trying to accomplish is to help that player.

“That’s a Dungy-ism, so to speak, and that’s where I think I connect decently with players.”

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