Why Caleb Williams' Play at OTAs Should Reflect a Head Start

The Bears gave Caleb Williams every chance to begin his career from a higher level than most other rookie QBs and now they'll see at OTAs how much it helped.
Bears QB Caleb Williams (18) and undrafted rookie QB Austin Reed  go through warmups at Halas Hall.
Bears QB Caleb Williams (18) and undrafted rookie QB Austin Reed go through warmups at Halas Hall. / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

Caleb Williams began his first OTAs Monday and, as a result, his first real on-field work against an NFL defense within the Bears offense.

Most rookie quarterbacks can be expect to start with the most basic of steps at this point, but it's been the intent of the Bears to speed up this process since back even before he had been drafted.

Williams' early education has even included meeting with Tom Brady at a brunch put on by Fanatics billionaire Michael Rubin.

SI's Albert Breer goes back in his Monday Morning Quarterback column for May 20 and looks at the three zoom meetings the Bears were allowed to have with Williams prior to the draft and after his 30 visit to Halas Hall as key in this respect.

The idea was to have Williams able to run the offense by rookie camp, but especially to have him ready to assume command of an offense loaded with veterans who are ready to ascend by today's start of OTAs.

So they went well beyond what they did with the zoom calls prior to the draft as they set his personal QB coach Will Hewlett up with some of the basics of the their offense to work with Williams during down time prior to the start of OTAs and rookie camp. They were able to do it because offensive coordinator Shane Waldron had a past relationship with Hewlett.

"There is always a unique thing about the NFL where we have the players for a certain amount of time during the year but there is also a good portion of individual time and time in the offseason and having that comfort level with Will where after that 30 visit and those things where we could start getting him some information, he understands it and sees it well through a quarterback lens," Waldron said. "He (Hewlett) has done a great job of developing different quarterbacks along the way. And then this also gives a chance during the offseason and during time away to consistently work on the same approach for 12 months out of the year rather than just 'We're here now and then you're off and then you're here now working on two different things.'

"So it’s been a great thing and obviously moving forward, we’ll see which direction that goes. But it was a great start and a great benefit to Caleb to be able to hear some of those things and be able to have somebody who was helping him out."

The Bears stressed they haven't turned the entire offense over to Hewlett but just enough to get Williams going on the right foot.

"It's more just fundamentals, route tree stuff. Just basics," coach Matt Eberflus said.

The aim for all of this was to have Williams know the language of the offense but also function within it earlier.





"Around the league there's probably five or six different ways to call the exact same route in different systems," Waldron said. "So before you get into scheme and the offensive breakdown, what are we calling certain footwork, what are we calling individual routes? And when you even come into rookie minicamp and have a good grasp of that, now you can start to build on that foundation and move forward at a little quicker process."

Now that he's in OTAs with Waldron, QB coach Kerry Joseph and passing game coordinator Thomas Brown, Williams' real Bears working relationship begins 

"So for me, it's helping him with the big picture of the game, understanding the offense, understanding situational football," Waldron said. "And then Kerry, being a great technician and making sure we're always working on the fundamentals and that belief in the basics. And then Thomas with the passing game and everything he can bring there and his prior experiences to lean on.

"So it's a collaborative effort, we’ll all work at it together."

It's all about building the communication process so on Sundays everyone knows what the play is and where it should be going, and it started for a rookie quarterback with three zoom calls and then working with his own personal QB coach on parts of the Bears offense.

The first steps with the actual team are occurring now.

Some have even interpreted Matt Eberflus saying already that Williams is the starting quarterback as more evidence of their attempt to have their starter ready to run the offense earler but in all honesty, what else were they going to say? That they traded Justin Fields and drafted Caleb Williams No. 1 overall so he could sit and learn behind Caleb Williams initially?

There was zero chance of this.

Rather, it's been Williams' team since before Day 1 and they've been preparing him to take it over.

Now it's up to the Bears rookie QB to move forward playing with veterans from a higher level than most players who have had so little exposure to the pro game.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

Published |Modified
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.