Caleb Williams and Bears Prepared to Take the Next Step

Bears rookie QB handled his introduction to the offense and new teammates the way the team hoped and heads to a break thinking about more work ahead.
Caleb Williams (18), Tyson Bagent (17), Brett Rypien (11) and Austin Reed (16) go through warmups at Halas Hall practice.
Caleb Williams (18), Tyson Bagent (17), Brett Rypien (11) and Austin Reed (16) go through warmups at Halas Hall practice. / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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Caleb Williams has finished introduction to NFL Football 101 and gets a bit of a vacation.

The next phase at taining camp and preseason will be no vacation, this is certain.

Coach Matt Eberflus doesn't plan to store Williams away like a valued family heirloom during preseason games and is coming up with a plan for playing him that could be based on what other teams have done with their rookies.

"There's definitely that," Eberflus said on the final day of offseason practice. "You look at last year’s reps. C.J. (Stroud), Bryce (Young), (Anthony) Richardson, they all got between 45 and 65 (game) reps in the preseason.

"So you look at those things and you look at the past and we'll be looking a little deeper than that and go back a few years (looking at QB reps). So you're always looking at that and gathering the data. And like I said, we'll always do what's best for the Bears."

The Bears will learn plenty more about Williams then, but they say they have already, just as he has about the team and what's ahead.

"He's a pretty funny guy," Eberflus said "I've learned that about him. So he has a really good sense of humor, he's really good with the guys. And he has a good way with other teammates. I didn't know he was going to be that good."

They can't say he's been good on the field yet, just that he's doing everything necessary to get there. He'll be doing it off the practice field, as well.

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Williams will direct his new teammates in some type of offseason work at some point in the next four weeks, possibly in California or Florida.

"All of us will be getting together," Williams said. "We actually were all texting last night in the group chat trying to figure out where exactly we want to be in the world, where we're going to be throwing, working out, and bonding and things like that.

"The plan is not also just be the offensive guys, but have defensive guys out there, us working on techniques and things like that together. Bonding, enjoying each other and going from there."

The bonding aspect with the team is big with Williams. It's here where he thinks he has made big strides, and judging from what Eberflus thinks of his sense of humor, it carries over to his relationship with coaches, as well.

"I would say the biggest thing that I accomplished was one, building the connection with my teammates and those relationships," Williams said of OTAs and minicamp. "Hanging out, going to TopGolf, playing vs. Cole (Kmet) and Brett (Rypien) and them. Or also just hanging out with the rooks and us going to movies, hanging out, going to dinners and things like that but also being in here laughing and joking, being in the locker room.

"From November 18 to April 25 of not being on a team, so you realize how much you miss it and being in the locker room in those small moments, so making sure we're taking advantage of that. That's one of the biggest. And then also just gaining and building more confidence and trust throughout the Bears and everybody here but also myself within the offense, building that belief, that trust, that confidence and swagger to go out there and play."

The ability to play means he's on track with where he needs to be in his knowledge of the offense. In the opinion of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, Williams is where he needs to be to handle the season, and not just the offense, because he has shown he can take the ups and downs of the league.

"That's a key part of playing quarterback and really playing in the NFL at all the positions," Waldron said. "Knowing that, and I've mentioned this before, everyone you play against is good. Defenses have great players all around, offenses have great players all throughout the league, so there's going to be some good times, there's going to be some bad times.

"You know, figuring out how you react to the ups and downs in a nice even demeanor and a thing we preach is, let's say there is about 65 plays each game. 'How could you play 65 individual snaps regardless of the outcome of the previous play?' So you could stay locked in, stay focused. So the time in the offseason for us is about training our minds as well as our bodies to react the right way no matter what the outcome of the previous play was, knowing that there is a job to do on the next play."

There is no breakthrough point or leveling off to come now for Williams now, only a work in progress that will continue to training camp, into preseason and beyond.

"It's always a work in progress and the progress always shows in the work that you had before the season but also throughout the season," Williams said. "There will definitely be times where we feel there's traction, like right now. We feel great, and that's really all I can speak on at this point because I haven't gotten to Week 1 of preseason or Week 1 versus the Titans and things like that.

"Right now we feel the traction, we're enjoying it. We also know that right now we're building and bonding and believing in each other and figuring out what's right, what's wrong, so that when we get to the point of preseason (game) 1 or regular season (game) 1, that we're ready to go to the best of our ability."

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Gene Chamberlain

GENE CHAMBERLAIN

BearDigest.com publisher Gene Chamberlain has covered the Chicago Bears full time as a beat writer since 1994 and prior to this on a part-time basis for 10 years. He covered the Bears as a beat writer for Suburban Chicago Newspapers, the Daily Southtown, Copley News Service and has been a contributor for the Daily Herald, the Associated Press, Bear Report, CBS Sports.com and The Sporting News. He also has worked a prep sports writer for Tribune Newspapers and Sun-Times newspapers.