Developing a franchise QB: As the Chicago Bears begin with Caleb Williams, those who have worked with successful rookies weigh in

Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Football

On the third snap of the first 7-on-7 period in Caleb Williams’ first rookie minicamp practice with the Chicago Bears, a quick out route to undrafted rookie free agent Brenden Bates went off the hands of the tight end from Kentucky.

The throw was a little low and to the outside, and before Williams returned to the huddle for the next play, he quickly motioned for Bates to run the route again and made an accurate throw on a do-over.

It probably won’t happen regularly in training camp this summer but it provided a glimpse into the wiring of Williams as the No. 1 pick in last month’s draft begins a crash course at Halas Hall to prepare him for the remainder of the offseason program.

Coach Matt Eberflus opened his media availability Friday noting how large the crowd was on what can sometimes be a mundane weekend. He didn’t hesitate declaring Williams the starting quarterback for the season ahead — a surprise to positively no one.

“It’s really a great opportunity,” Eberflus said when asked about rebooting at the position. “It’s refreshing to be able to do that. I know the whole building’s excited about working together, not only with Caleb but with everybody. It’s certainly nice to have that fresh start.”

During the crisp 85-minute practice at Halas Hall, the Bears put a heavy emphasis on fundamentals. Williams split reps with Austin Reed, an undrafted rookie from Western Kentucky, during two 7-on-7 periods. Williams made a nice throw to tryout tight end Shelton Zeon on a seam route that was just off his hands, but the timing of the play was sharp. On the next snap, Williams delivered a good throw to fellow first-round pick Rome Odunze on a deep in-breaking route.


The only real misfire was on quick out route that tryout cornerback Leon Jones made a nice break on to deflect with his left hand, the kind of play that can get the Arkansas State product noticed. There was a brief 11-on-11 period, but it was focused solely on calls at the line of scrimmage and adjustments — they didn’t snap the ball.

That’s what football looks like when the organization is beginning at ground zero to build the offense around a new quarterback, one they hope delivers the franchise to new heights.

General manager Ryan Poles described a total building approach to putting Williams on a path to success, which makes sense considering to ultimately achieve their goals, the quarterback must be the one leading the way.

“The infrastructure has to be there,” Poles said. “And I think we’ve done that part to have the talent around our quarterback now. The other thing is our entire organization is going to have to be on the same page on how we handle this, how we develop Caleb.


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