Bears LB D.J. Williams right in the middle of team’s plans
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com April 13, 2013 12:48AM
D.J. Williams’ nine seasons in Denver were tainted by disciplinary matters the last few years, but he says he’s only looking ahead. | David Zalubowski~AP
Updated: May 15, 2013 7:03AM
Linebacker D.J. Williams liked what the Bears had drawn up for him, with and without Brian Urlacher.
He wanted in.
‘‘The Bears came at me before they released Brian,’’ Williams told the Sun-Times. ‘‘They came at me with two different plans, two different scenarios. They came at me with a plan if he actually stayed and what their plan was for me and what position I would play. And they also came at me if [Urlacher] left, what my plan would be and what position I would play. That’s why I say I felt they showed the most interest, because they had a complete package.’’
The Bears’ thoroughness shows they were open to Urlacher returning but also that they were ready to move should a deal not be reached. It’s the Phil Emery way.
Of course, Plan B was the one that unfolded, Urlacher is gone, and Williams has a locker at Halas Hall.
He’s the Bears’ starting middle linebacker.
‘‘This move is probably best for my career, being in my 10th year,’’ said Williams, who spent nine seasons with the Denver Broncos. ‘‘Playing in the middle, a lot of things are funneled to you. The responsibilities of a middle linebacker are a little less strenuous as far as guarding wide receivers and things like that, so I’m excited about it — to be the man in the middle and plug up the holes.’’
Williams might be an upgrade over Urlacher. He’s younger. He isn’t coming off numerous injuries. He has played in multiple schemes. And he’s extremely motivated — which is what happens when you have a one-year deal with no guarantees.
‘‘I don’t really see it as pressure,’’ said Williams, a 2004 first-round pick (17th overall) who totaled 816 tackles in his nine years with the Broncos. ‘‘I see it as more of a bigger incentive to play.’’
Another motivation is the second chance he’s been given. Williams’ off-the-field character has been called the biggest concern about his signing. He missed nine games last season because of two suspensions and was cut. But he insists those concerns are overblown.
‘‘Any time I’ve gotten in trouble, nothing has been malicious,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m a good-hearted person. I think that the two times that I got in trouble were just judgment problems. And when you get in trouble in the NFL, they put you in a program, where you go and they want you to speak to somebody and talk and just try to develop better decision-making tactics. I’ve been in that process for the last two years. That’s also been helping.’’
Williams got a six-game ban for violating the banned-substance policy; the NFL said he submitted a ‘‘non-human’’ urine sample in August 2011 in an effort to manipulate tests. It turned into nine games because of a 2010 incident that included him being arrested for driving under the influence. Williams also pleaded guilty to impaired driving in 2005.
He fought both suspensions.
‘‘Even to this day, I still believe the truth really didn’t come out,’’ Williams said. ‘‘It’s just one of those situations where everything will probably come out years after when it really won’t help or benefit me. But that’s all in the past.’’
What is the truth?
‘‘Me saying the truth right now or bringing it up again is going to keep the story going,’’ Williams said. ‘‘That’s why it seems like I’ve been trouble for almost 2½ years when the incident happened in 2011 and then I wasn’t punished for it until two years later.’’
He wants to move forward.
Football will help with that.
Williams said he’s comfortable with what the cover-2 scheme requires. He likes new Bears coach Marc Trestman, calling him ‘‘a coach that’s willing to listen to his players and actually make those changes to help things go.’’ He has been impressed by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and sees a leader in quarterback Jay Cutler.
Williams also sees big things ahead for him, Lance Briggs and James Anderson.
‘‘I’ll go on record and say I’ll be disappointed if our linebacker corps isn’t the top or one of the top linebacker corps in the NFL next year,’’ he said.
If that happens, there’s a good chance fans will get over Urlacher’s departure and questions about Williams’ character will cease.
‘‘I’m not so much nervous, but you want to put out a great impression,’’ Williams said. ‘‘You want to let the people know that took a chance on you in the organization that they made the right choice.’’