Caleb Williams is unlike any other past Chicago Bears rookie quarterback

Chicago Bears Introduce Quarterback Caleb Williams And Wide Receiver Rome Odunze
Chicago Bears Introduce Quarterback Caleb Williams And Wide Receiver Rome Odunze / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

I’ll admit, when it became increasingly evident that the Chicago Bears were going to use their first overall pick in this year’s draft on quarterback Caleb Williams, I was initially skeptical. I was skeptical because of Mitchell Trubisky. I was skeptical because of Justin Fields. Not only does a first-round quarterback fail to guarantee NFL success, but the Bears have practically written the book on picking the wrong quarterback in the first round. Pair that with the murmurs about Caleb Williams being an early “bust” candidate, and the atmosphere surrounding this guy just had a dark cloud over it for me.

But when I start to look at this rationally, I can see a couple of key differences in this situation compared to previous ones. Caleb Williams is superbly talented, yes, but there is more to this than just talent alone. Williams steps into an offense that is far better equipped to win than those of his predecessors. This directly correlates to the other key difference by finally allowing management to evaluate Williams without the usual past questions about the supporting cast. In other words, if Caleb Williams ultimately doesn’t live up to expectations, it won’t be because of the lack of talent around him at key positions. How many times did we, as fans, try to justify poor play from past quarterbacks by asking, “Can we really judge him accurately when he has no help around him?”

In 2017, the Bears drafted Mitchell Trubisky second overall after moving up one spot in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers. He came into that year in a supposed backup role to Mike Glennon, who had just signed a 3-year, $45MM contract with the Bears that offseason. Glennon was benched after four weeks and Trubisky took over to finish out the season. Trubisky took over with a sub-par offensive line that often had issues at the tackle position. His receiving corps was led by Josh Bellamy and Kendall Wright. Yes, you heard me right. I actually don’t even remember Kendall Wright, so that pretty much sums up my point. Also, don’t forget about Kevin White, the seventh overall pick from two years prior who had 19 catches going into 2017.

Jumping ahead to 2021, the Bears selected Justin Fields 11th overall in the draft. His situation was similar to Trubisky’s in that he was drafted to sit behind the current starter, this time Andy Dalton. A Dalton injury, however, led to Fields ultimately starting ten games that season. Fields took over an offense that had a markedly better receiving corps, led by Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney. But the offensive line was still somewhat of a patchwork group with minimal depth, anchored by 39-year-old left tackle Jason Peters. Fields played in 12 games that season and was sacked an absurd 36 times, or 11.8 percent of his dropbacks, per Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports.

Many of the sacks that Fields took were a result of his own inability to recognize pressure and get rid of the ball quickly, so I’m not completely trashing the offensive line from that season. I don’t believe Matt Nagy and the offensive coaching staff did enough to coach Fields in the areas needed to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, which includes being a pocket passer, but that’s a story for another day. When I look back over these past quarterback failures with the Bears, I can’t help but notice the positive differences with Caleb Williams. Yes, his ceiling is higher than his predecessors in my opinion, but the main difference here is situational. He is taking over an offense that has more depth and talent on the offensive line. This is also an offense that has arguably the best receiving corps on paper in the NFL, with some analysts predicting that the Bears could field one of the league’s best offensive units in 2024.

The arrival of Caleb Williams was well-thought out by the Chicago Bears

Because of this, management can truly evaluate Williams’ progress without using his lack of a supporting cast as a scapegoat. Gone are the days of waiting for the right offensive line, the right talent at receiver, or even the right playcaller to foster an environment of growth for a young quarterback in Chicago. Even newly hired offensive coordinator Shane Waldron comes in with a promising pedigree, fresh off of helping to resurrect the career of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith in Seattle.

There are no excuses this time around. There are no positional roadblocks to delay the progression of the rookie quarterback. This is an environment ripe for success. Caleb Williams is walking into perhaps one of the most uniquely beneficial situations of any quarterback drafted first overall in NFL history.