What Bears Fans Have to Worry About: Caleb Williams' Balancing Act

Analysis: In this third part of a series on potential Bears concerns, the Shane Waldron offense is known for balance almost to a fault. However, Williams might be the perfect QB to make it work.
Caleb Williams was known at USC for getting the ball distributed to all of his receivers and not just one or two, which could work to his advantage in Shane Waldron's attack.
Caleb Williams was known at USC for getting the ball distributed to all of his receivers and not just one or two, which could work to his advantage in Shane Waldron's attack. / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

The targets for Caleb Williams have attracted enough attention.

It's like NFL.com's Adam Rank said in his assessment of the Bears -- they have definitely set Williams up to succeed.

It's a potential Hall of Fame receiver in Keenan Allen, DJ Moore as the best Bears receiver since Brandon Marshall and Rome Odunze, who was one of the top three receivers in a draft loaded at the position. Cole Kmet caught 70 passes last year, Gerald Everett has averaged almost 50 catches the last four seasons. Toss in 1,000-yard rusher D'Andre Swift and also Khalil Herbert, who led all NFL running backs who had 100 carries or more in yards per attempt two years ago.

The ball could literally go anywhere.

"I think for us on offense, we want to be able to be multiple on offense," Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said. "And so with the addition of the wide receivers, having three receivers, two great established vets, we've got other young guys that are up and coming on the roster as well, it just allows us to continue to be multiple, allows us to on a week-by-week basis see what might be a matchup advantage or something that we can look to lean heavier towards.

"And with Cole and Gerald and the other tight ends and KB (Khari Blasingame) at fullback, we got a lot of different pieces that we can utilize."

With three running backs capable of running, and at least two as passing game contributors, the attack should be able to spread out in all directions.

"So when you've got a good running game I feel like it makes the whole offense itself more balanced," Swift said.

That's also the problem.

Not Enough Footballs

As they say, there aren't enough footballs for everyone. The establishment of a chief weapon in the passing game and also in the running game is conducive to moving the ball because it forces defenses to overcompensate for a player or two and leave themselves vulnerable in other areas.

A totally balanced offense can be stopped by a defense matching up one on one or in zones. Offense in the NFL is all about getting the defense off their mark somewhere. Matchups matter. It's not college, where some players enjoy superior physical abilities to the point where there's less need for strategic advantages.

Could this be what deraiiled Waldron's offense the last two years in Seattle?

Make no mistake, the Seahawks had defensive problems for three years. This was supposed to be Pete Carroll's area of expertise but Seattle's defense struggled mightily.

However, the offense had trouble as well. In Waldron's first year, the offense flourished in many critical ways. When they had achieved complete balance in Year 3 with three wide receiver threats, three tight ends and a solid backfield group, they were 21st on offense. They were one spot behind the Bears. They were 17th in scoring, one spot ahead of the Bears.

They didn't bring Waldron here to produce na offense ranking right with Luke Getsy's.

A sure sign of being hamstrung by balance? They had problems in the red zone.

The field shortens and the matchups for the defense are easier then. It really pays for an offense to have a go-to guy in the red zone. For all their balance—with DK Metcalf, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Tyler Lockett at wideout—the Seahawks were 27th and 26th at scoring TDs in the red zone in Waldron’s last two seasons.

BEARS FIND CALEB WILLIAMS DIFFERENT THAN ORIGINALLY ADVERTISED

WHAT BEARS FANS HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT: NEW TAKE ON PASS BLOCKING

WHAT BEARS FANS HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT: THE EAGLES HAVE LANDED

BEARS BRING BACK PUNT RETURN COMPETITION FOR DANTE PETTIS

When Waldron was still getting his offense together in 2021 and they weren't as balanced in their threats, yet they were third in red zone offense. He also had Russell Wilson at quarterback then and had Geno Smith the last two years.

It's here where the Bears have to hope Caleb Williams' experience leading balanced attacks can make Waldron's attack hum. There’s reason to think it can work, based on his past at two colleges.

Caleb Williams' Balancing Act

Williams finished ninth nationally at Oklahoma in passing yards, and eighth and fifth for two seasons at USC. Yet, at USC he never had what you could call a highly ranked receiver. His best was Jordan Addison, but while playing with Williams Addison had just 59 catches. Addison had 875 receiving yards and was tied for 77th in the country in receptions.

USC in 2022 had four receivers with 39 receptions or more, though, and seven players had 20 catches or more.

The same pattern was true in 2023 after Addison left. Tahj Washington tied for 64th in receiving nationally with 59 receptions and led the team. Brenden Rice had 45 catches but 11 players had double digits for catches.

Even at Oklahoma, Williams distributed the ball and he had Marvin Mims and Mario Williams in the receiver corps. Mims (32 catches), Williams (35 catches), Jeremiah Hall (32 catches), Michael Woods (35 catches) and Jadon Haselwood (39 receptions) made for a very balanced set of receivers.

So at least if there is this balance in this Waldron offense, the Bears must hope Williams again gets everyone their touches the way he did in college and does it in the red zone.

There are more egos involved in the NFL so it's not as easy to please everyone with touches. However, it's Waldron's balanced offense the Bears are looking to ignite with multiple threats. And they might have the right person distributing the ball to do it.

If it doesn't work, look for the red zone to become their dead zone.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven


Published |Modified
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.