How the Bears plan to put Williams in best position to succeed

Bears coach Matt Eberflus seemed a little surprised for a moment on Friday when he walked into a packed PNC Center at Halas Hall for his news conference before rookie minicamp in front of a room of roughly 50 media members.

“Looks like a popular spot,” Eberflus joked.

Halas Hall and the Bears have become the story of the town and the NFL since they drafted quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in last month’s draft. News conferences and practices are swarmed with reporters and photographers trying to get a glimpse of Williams throwing, running and even stretching.

There’s a new energy in Lake Forest.

“We’ve always had positive energy in the building, but now I think it’s advanced even more,” Eberflus said. “We’re excited about that but we understand the process is going to be about hard work and passion for the game. We’re going to be rooted in those things.”

Eberflus and the coaching staff, even the Bears as an organization, find themselves in a new position trying to develop a quarterback drafted No. 1 overall. Eberflus gained some experience in how to handle the moment with the Dallas Cowboys from afar when Dak Prescott took over as the starter.

Bears passing game coordinator Thomas Brown was with the Carolina Panthers last season when they selected Bryce Young No. 1 overall.

But Eberflus said he’s relied on information from other coaches around the league to build a plan to help put Williams in the best spot to succeed from the start.

“Everything, the whole process,” Eberflus said. “You go through the whole process of that. I certainly have good friends in the league you would lean on and talk to about. We certainly got some good information from those guys.”

That process started with rookie minicamp. Eberflus wanted all his rookies to learn about the fundamentals of going through meetings and then applying it to walkthroughs, practices, corrections and eventually games.

Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said Williams has been receptive to the Bears’ plan and their coaching. While Williams’ impressive throws and plays excite Waldron, for now he wants Williams to learn the Bears’ language so they’re all on the same page later in the summer and in games.

“It’s really more about the operation, building that foundation,” Waldron said. “The plays, the schemes, those things will happen as we keep building an offense.

Williams said he felt he was in a good spot entering rookie minicamp after communicating a lot with the Bears during the pre-draft process and learning the different intricacies of Waldron’s offense. Williams already got a head start of learning the fundamentals of the Bears playbook and the cadences with quarterback coach Will Hewitt before joining the team for camp.

He already has the advantage of knowing how to be a professional athlete. Williams is one of the first athletes to join the NFL during the era of Name, Image and Likeness and has his entire team set for Williams to focus only on football.

“I have the right people that I trust that give me summaries of what’s going on and things like that,” Williams said. “So being able to handle that and not put much thought process into it allows me to work on phase one install and fully dig in. Like I was speaking about, being able to dig into that, but also find ways to learn it and different ways to be able to coach it to my teammates and help out.”

Williams will consider the foundation set once he feels comfortable with the offense. He wants to get to a point where he can teach some things about the offense to his other rookie teammates and be even-keeled when he’s on the field.

Until then, Williams will learn from Bears veterans and coaches to live up to the new energy.

“I’m listening, having both ears open and my mouth shut,” Williams said. “Just kind of sitting back listening and when I get to the point of when I learn everything, when I learn the ways of how we do it with the culture, the playbook and what the offensive line, the receivers are all doing, running backs and tight ends and things like that, then you can start taking the lead, then you can start taking the helms of all of it and take the next steps. For right now though, I’m listening more than I’m speaking and talking, and I’m taking it one step at a time being in the moment.”

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