Bears Name Caleb Williams QB1

Surprise!

Not really.

“No conversation,” head coach Matt Eberflus said ahead of the Bears’ rookie minicamp. “He’s the starter.”

Expect pushback by the Justin Fields fans who have now switched their allegiance to Tyson Bagent. Everyone else has known Caleb Williams would be QB1 since before Fields was traded to the Steelers. Williams was the only quarterback the Bears hosted on a top-30 visit, and Chicago was the only team Williams visited ahead of the draft. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron began teaching the former USC quarterback his offense ahead of his pro day in Los Angeles and again while Williams visited Halas Hall in early April. Like it or not, he’s the team’s newest franchise quarterback.

Williams also has been throwing with fellow rookie Rome Odunze since the pair were drafted in the first round. The two have been seemingly inseparable since, so the on-field chemistry is already obvious. Odunze said he knew Williams was talented from playing against him in college, but now he’s seeing it on the practice field at Halas Hall.

“It’s really effortless for him,” Odunze said. “[Caleb does] a lot of things [effortlessly] that older quarterbacks may think is hard. He continues to improve every time I see him, and he’s very smooth. He [can] throw the ball from any angle, body position, anywhere on the field, to any spot on the field. So you always have to be ready, always have to be prepared anytime he is in the backfield. It gives you the confidence that he’s going to put it on you when you’re giving him your best on the route.”

Williams has been preparing on his own, too, working with Will Hewett, his private QB coach. Eberflus said Waldron gave Williams and Hewlett the basics of the offense. The basic package includes the verbiage, route tree, and cadence. Williams is also being taught how to operate in and out of the huddle.

“You always want to get ahead if you can,” Williams said.  “And so with those things that they gave me, I would take it to [Hewett] and we would use the cadence, we would use the drops, we would use all those things so that’s not something that’s on my mind throughout the process of when I got here,” Williams said.

The starter’s primary goal this weekend is to get comfortable with the playbook so he can teach it on the field to the other rookies. Williams indicated he wants to continue developing that chemistry on the field with Odunze and his other receivers.

“I’m going to make mistakes, and I don’t like mistakes and messing up,” Williams said. “And I know there’s a bunch of guys that are going to be in the same position as me. Being in that position and being even-keeled and being in control — cool, calm, collected — not only helps me but also all the other guys on the field.

“I feel pretty good. We’ll go out here today, and we’re going to have a few mess-ups, probably, and things like that, working to do, eliminate those as fast as possible. But you need those things to grow and progress throughout the time and years and things like that. [I’m] so excited, but I also feel pretty good right now.”

Williams also said he is excited to work with Waldron and new passing game coordinator Thomas Brown. Quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph and offensive assistants Ryan Griffin and Robbie Picazo are also new to the team.

“[I’ve] got to learn how to follow first to be a great leader,” Williams continued. “So right now I’m following all the vets [and] all the coaches. I’m listening, [keeping] both ears open and my mouth shut. Just kind of sitting back listening.

“And when I get to the point of when I learn everything when I learn the ways of how we do it with the culture, the playbook, and what the offensive line, the receivers are all doing, running backs and tight ends (are doing), then you can start taking the lead. Then you can start taking the helm of all of it and take the next steps. For right now though, I’m listening more than I’m speaking and talking, and I’m taking it one step at a time, being in the moment.”

Eberflus said the Bears have several benchmarks they expect Williams to reach over the next few months ahead of training camp. The head coach wants his starter to be fully versed in the fundamentals of Waldron’s offense.

“Run, pass, checks and his fundamentals,” Eberflus said. “He’s really good fundamentally, but we have some things we want him to work on and improve as well.”

Williams has to prepare himself for the media spotlight that comes with being Chicago’s No. 1 QB, too. There’s also the matter of breaking the team’s alleged quarterback curse. The rookie met with reporters after Friday’s session, and was asked about being named starter.

“Obviously, you have goals that you set for yourself right in the moment. Also, you have goals in the future,” Williams said. “So that’s important, but also understanding the moment that we’re in and being in that moment is [just as] important. I would say taking it a step at a time, handling it the way it needs to be handled, and being professional is really important. All of those go in one.”

Williams has arrived. Chicago, for the better part, has embraced the young man. It’s time to put words into action.

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