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Bears’ Caleb Williams on minicamp debut and his new offense: ‘We’re going to be pretty damn good’

USATSI

LAKE FOREST, ILL. —On the field, Bears rookie quarterback Caleb Williams improved over each of three sessions of the team’s mandatory minicamp, his first taste of life on an NFL field, overcoming two interceptions in his first two days to firing off a slew of red-zone touchdowns in his third.

Off the field, Williams is focused on being “neutral” and keeping the right mindset every day. That includes a daily routine to keep his thoughts positive.

“Just having that moment with myself, I do it every day,” Williams told the media on Thursday. “I sit there and say, ‘We’re going to be pretty damn good.’

“Just gotta keep working, keep going and we’re all excited. It’s really important to have that mindset, but also have the mindset of ‘let’s keep going, keep working, let’s get after it.'”

You’d feel that way, too, if you were throwing to D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen and rookie Rome Odunze, not to mention tight ends Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett. Those five pass-catchers were the most involved, save for Kmet, who missed two practices for precautionary reasons.

There really weren’t too many off-target throws from Williams save for his first interception, an ugly misread that went right into the waiting hands of Kevin Byard. His only other pick was a late-but-accurate throw that linebacker Tremaine Edmunds leaped and snatched, and that was immediately followed by a terrific deep ball that traveled at least 50 yards into the hands of Velus Jones Jr., who had to wait for maybe a half-second to catch the ball at the front right pylon. Touchdown.

Williams was predominantly on point with his accuracy, a clear upgrade over what the Bears previously worked with. His timing appeared to be best with Moore and Odunze, though Allen seemed to catch up by the time minicamp ended.

Williams even flashed some of that off-schedule playmaking ability. One of Williams’ best plays from minicamp came in 7-on-7s on Tuesday when he rolled to his right unable to find an open receiver and, just before his foot went out of bounds, fired a cross-body rocket to a streaking Odunze about 15 yards downfield with perfect placement for a would-be first down. It was exactly the kind of play fans came to expect from him weekly at USC.

The Superman Scramble will still work in the NFL.

“We will have some of that. He’s very effective at that,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said of Williams’ improvisational skills. “Now obviously we want him to drop back and process and deliver the ball, but he is remarkable when it comes to throwing the ball on the move, so we’ll have to use that as a weapon for us.”

Williams knows there’s a lot of work ahead — understanding post-snap coverages, cutting the ball loose sooner, even his cadence was problematic. He said he hasn’t been verbal on the field for four years and plans to perfect his volume and change up his cadence to draw defenses offsides. But overall he felt he improved.

“I feel that progression-wise, going through all the reads, throwing a little bit better with anticipation, getting more reps with the wide receivers, that obviously helped,” Williams said. “With all the reps we’ve been able to get, it’s been huge. Just like [Thursday], I feel like progression-wise, being able to throw a little bit more anticipation was a little small step for me.”

Paired with an experienced defense that could become a real problem for the teams they play, the Bears have legit reason for optimism. Which is good since they’ll be on “Hard Knocks,” play three prime-time games and even travel abroad for a showdown with the Jaguars in London.

They just have to keep their minds right.  

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Author: Dave Richard
June 6, 2024 | 4:25 pm

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