The Chicago Bears wrapped up minicamps last week and followed them up with OTAs. Caleb Williams was named the starter, and he got his first reps with his new teammates.
He started with fellow rookies last week, and then veterans joined this week.

While Williams is one of the most hyped-up NFL prospects of the past decade, he is not without his flaws. And while much has been made of the Bears building very well around him, which they failed to do around Justin Fields, Mitchell Trubisky, and Jay Cutler before, another aspect many forget about is their failure in developing them through coaching. Those QBs failed partly because of personnel and partly because of coaching. Their rookie years were both rocky; they were thrown in, Fields after an Andy Dalton injury, and Trubisky after Mike Glennon, the supposed bridge QB, was so bad they had to take him out.

But neither was really given a chance to win the starting spot as a rookie, so it took a while to gel with the first-team offense, and overall, their situations weren’t good.

Then, with Matt Nagy and Trubisky, there were too many games where he didn’t get the run game to help him out. With Luke Getsy and Fields, he often called far too many screens and didn’t utilize his legs until it was too late.

Now, many were upset about Matt Eberflus’s return, as they believed part of the failure in Fields’ development was on him. In comes a new OC, Shane Waldron, and a new quarterback coach, Kerry Joseph.

After the “200” system failed with Justin Fields, how can Shane Waldron and the rest of the offensive coaching staff develop Caleb Williams so he can fully live up to his potential?

Let’s focus on what they should emphasize with him.

Keeping Two Hands on the Football

The first one is simple but extremely important. Likely, Williams’ biggest flaw in college was his fumbling. He would try to do a lot on a play, running around with the ball away from his body and loose, and when he would get hit, he would lose the ball. He fumbled 18 times in three seasons of college football play. Pretty simple here: Waldron and Co have to tell Caleb to never hold the ball loosely, and if he’s about to get hit, to tuck it away or throw the ball away.

It’s very good that Williams always wants to make plays and never waste opportunities, but in the NFL, sometimes you have to just live to the next down. This also includes sliding or going out of bounds when running instead of taking a hit.

Taking Fewer Sacks

Going hand in hand with the fumbles, Williams was sacked 83 times in college. That is a lot, even if we consider all the issues USC had on the offensive line. With more context, the number doesn’t look as bad; according to this article by Kyle Morris, his 19% pressure-to-sack rate is a tad high, but it’s below the danger threshold of 20%. But he only scrambled from clean pockets 3% of the time, which is fantastic, and his long time to throw usually indicated he would scramble to try and still throw rather than immediately take off.

What Waldron and the staff should focus on is getting him to get rid of the ball more when pressured rather than scramble right away.

The comparison in the article is to Aaron Rodgers, but Rodgers got rid of the ball to a throwaway or a check down at a higher rate than Williams when pressured. To minimize sacks, which are drive killers, coaches have to emphasize to Williams that taking what the defense gives him is still a good play when he’s pressured (so long as it isn’t 3rd or 4th down).

Playing in Structure

At USC, Williams went off-script a lot. Most of the time, this was out of necessity; in 2023, the team had one of the worst defenses in the country, and the offensive line and receiving group lost a lot of talent to the NFL. Caleb often had to play hero ball, and it worked a lot of the time, as USC’s offense was great in every game except for his infamous performance at Notre Dame. In the NFL, Williams will have to trust his coaches, his teammates, and the scheme more; if he goes off-script too much, NFL defenses will make him pay.

One thing I heard in the predraft process was Williams would often see a quick short pass available and take it off, trying to go big game hunting. That’s very commendable, but as we said earlier, sometimes you have to take what the defense gives you. More often than not, in the NFL, you have to take your first read if it’s open.

That’s not to say Waldron and the staff should discourage multiple reads or try to go for a big play more often than not; simply, compared to his USC days, he needs to take a little more of the easy stuff.
Or, antithetically, to other young QBs who come into bad situations, since he has 3 great receivers, let it rip to them in tight windows.

PHOTO: Chicago Bears

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