CHICAGO -- Free-agent middle linebacker D.J. Williams is a firm believer that brand-new Chicago Bears head coach John Fox's wealth of experience separated the 59-year-old from other candidates.
"Fox has been through the ups and downs of the NFL; he knows and understands the dynamics of the league," Williams said on ESPN 1000's "Carmen and Jurko Show" on Friday. "A younger coach may not. They may be new and innovative with ideas and things like that, but at the end of the day, it's football. It's run the ball, throw the ball, tackle the ball carrier ... it's a simple game, but sometimes I feel like people make it too difficult."
Williams, an 11-year veteran, spent two seasons (2011-12) in Denver with Fox before jumping to the Bears in 2013. Fox brings 13 years of head-coaching experience to Chicago, after successful runs with the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Fox won four straight division titles in Denver and qualified for the postseason three times in Carolina.
"Fox makes coming to work fun," Williams said. "I would say he's an easy-going guy, but he's still old-school football. It's very hard to find a blend of that, somebody who's like real hard-nosed, but laid-back at the same time. I find you don't demand respect, you earn it. Being around John Fox for two years, how he approaches guys in the locker room, he'll chat you up and talk to you ... when you do that you get respect from the guys."
Fox and general manager Ryan Pace face an uphill battle to rebuild the Bears' defense, a unit that struggled mightily the past two seasons. Williams is one of several older players on the roster new management may deem expendable, especially after Williams ended the year of injured reserve (neck) for the second consecutive year.
Williams, a free agent, is unsure whether Chicago wants him to return but expects a straightforward answer from Fox if the two meet to discuss the linebacker's future.
"I had a good relationship with John Fox," Williams said. "He was a great coach. I'm late in my career and I do want to go to a place where I'm comfortable. I feel like if I do talk to John Fox he would shoot me straight and tell me what my position would be on the team. I'm feeling pretty good. I had a neck injury earlier this year. It's one of those injuries that you just needed time for it to heal. Now I'm feeling good and ready to go."