Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Matt Eberflus Reveals Surprise Reason Caleb Williams Will Start Immediately


The Chicago Bears have upheld a way of handling young quarterbacks. They always try to bring them along slowly, learning behind an established veteran. Jim Harbaugh had Jim McMahon. Cade McNown had Jim Miller and Shane Matthews. Rex Grossman had Kordell Stewart and Chris Chandler. Mitch Trubisky had Mike Glennon, and Justin Fields had Andy Dalton and Nick Foles. The process makes sense. Young quarterbacks learning from experienced ones seems logical. It certainly worked in places like Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers learned from Brett Favre and Jordan Love learned from Rodgers. However, Matt Eberflus chose to buck that tradition.

He made it clear from the outset that there would be no veteran guiding the way this time. Caleb Williams is the starting quarterback, period. There is no competition, not even signing a more proven backup. Eberflus doesn’t want there to be any mistake that Williams is the guy. However, avoiding controversy isn’t the primary motivation for the head coach. It goes deeper than that. He explained to Albert Breer of the MMQB that his own experiences have led him to believe rallying around a rookie with a veteran team can lead to good things.

After all, he’s seen it happen before.

Poles was in Kansas City as a young exec for the redshirting of Mahomes, so certainly the Bears could have considered the benefits of a more patient approach. But there was no Alex Smith positioned to play mentor on hand in Chicago, and Eberflus, a bit different from Poles, had the experience of seeing what a strong team coming together around a rookie could do for a young quarterback’s confidence, having seen it as the Dallas Cowboys’ linebackers coach when Dak Prescott was pressed into duty in 2016.

“Once [Tony] Romo got hurt, when he went down in that preseason game out in Seattle, the team just rallied around [Prescott],” Eberflus says. “And I feel that already in our building here. Everybody’s rallying around him. You can feel that with the reps that we got with some of the first on-field stuff we’ve done, with the veterans. You can see the offense, they’re real supportive, and same with the defensive guys. And his personality is infectious. He gets along with everybody; he’s very easy to insert into a locker room.”

Matt Eberflus makes a fair point about this mindset.

Prescott was a 4th round pick in 2016. He started every game, throwing for 3,667 yards, 24 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. Much of that success came from an outstanding supporting cast headlined by running back Ezekiel Elliott, wide receiver Dez Bryant, wide receiver Cole Beasley, tight end Jason Witten, left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick, and right guard Zack Martin. It was a loaded group that took a lot of the pressure off Prescott’s shoulders. He went 13-3 and made the playoffs.

Matt Eberflus thinks the Bears offer a similar setup for Williams. He’ll have D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze, and Cole Kmet as primary weapons. D’Andre Swift is a 1,000-yard rusher. The offensive line is returning four of their five starters from last year. While not quite as talented as that group eight years ago, it is a good one on paper. This isn’t what Fields or Trubisky had to deal with over the past few years. It is an offense ready to compete right now. Let Williams hit the ground right away, building his confidence.

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Rookies starting immediately is hardly an unproven approach. Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson are great examples. Williams can be the same.


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May 21, 2024 9:21 am

That Cowboys offensive line was one of the best the NFL has ever seen. Hard to compare this line to that, but our skill positions might be superior to those. Dak didn’t have to do a lot because of that line, and Zeke. I think CW will have to do much more.

May 21, 2024 6:12 am

Fact is, most of the experienced QBs training the rookie QBs were in the same system with the same OC, so really Rypien should be mentioned because he played under Waldron and was probably signed for his knowledge of that system.

May 21, 2024 4:46 am

Let me add this before I go get my bikini waxing for the Summer.
CW has that Mahomes/ARod ability to drop it in anywhere on the field with a flick of the wrist. In practice, he’s going to force our secondary to play to the whistle. I harp on health, but it’s our secondary that is going to be the strength of the entire team. If we are to have any chance of catching lightning in a bottle this year, to make a SB run, our DBs need to suffocate receivers all season long.

May 21, 2024 4:30 am

Well, it’s evident Caleb has put in the work in preparation to start week 1 of his rookie year. He was able to call some of his own plays at USC, he’s attended all of these developmental camps, IIRC, and again with how he scripted his pro day. His father and support system seems to be spot on. Compare it to how MHJ has been handled so far. Anticipate the shitshow next year with Shadeur and his pompous windbag father. No way, I’d touch that kid because Deion would try to have Lebron like influence over the organization. CW seems… Read more »

Dr. Steven Sallie
Dr. Steven Sallie
May 20, 2024 7:05 pm

Similar comparison is not the same. It would not be valid to compare the current Bears OL with that very good Dallas one; at least not yet.

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