Bears vets elevate Caleb Williams after struggling in practice

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – An up-and-down day for the Chicago Bears offense ended during the third practice of OTAs with an encouraging message for rookie quarterback Caleb Williams.

Kevin Byard, who joined the Bears in free agency for nine years, approached Williams at the end of Thursday’s session with comments after a period of inconsistency during the red zone period.

“I told him something at the end of practice, like, ‘Keep it up. We’re going to keep improving you,'” Byard said. “And I’m not necessarily saying it was a bad day, but days like this will make you better.”

The Bears’ defense, which has used the same system since 2022, has a top end offense that is learning a new scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.

“We had a good day,” Byard said. “I’m not going to sit here and lie about it. But to be honest, it’s to be expected. You’ve got a top-15, top-10 defense, and obviously you’re up against a younger rookie quarterback who’s adjusting and learning things. That’s what it’s supposed to look like.” “

Wide receiver DJ Moore indicated he expected “growing pains” for Williams, who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Bears, and the entire Chicago offense. During several occasions in the 11v11 match, Williams fell behind on shots or held the ball too long. With incompletions and plays that would result in sacks, came frustrations with the inability to execute the offense.

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“It’s frustrating, but we also know we’re learning a new system,” Moore said.

Moore said he felt he needed to convey that fact to Williams.

“Yes, you have to because our defense can get pretty rowdy, as you all know out there,” Moore said. “Just calming everyone down in the huddle and refocusing is the best thing.”

Byard noted that the offense “hounded us a little bit” during the first practice of the week and came away impressed by several of Williams’ throws.

“Every week is not going to be great,” Byard said. “Some weeks we’ll have to do a two-minute drill, and he’ll have to win a game. Some weeks we’ll surprise people. And sometimes it won’t be like that. So I’ll kind of tell him, ‘Hey, days like this, keep fighting.’ , keep watching the film, get better, and this is for everyone on the team, everything is not going to be peaches and cream” I say? “But as much as I love his confidence, he looked me straight in the eye and said ‘of course I’ll do it’, which was good to see.”

Coach Matt Eberflus emphasized the growth Williams has seen during his first week of real practices against NFL competition.

“This is the first time we’ve played a professional defense, and it’s very good,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “It’s going to be learning for everyone. They’re putting everything together. It’s been progress. I’ve seen progress from day one to day two, and from day two to day three. So it’s good.”

According to Eberflus, Williams’ ability to process the information given to him by the Bears’ coaches and implement it during practice was “very impressive.” As the Bears gauge Williams’ development over the spring, facilitating his offense is not part of the plan.

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“We’re not backing down,” Eberflus said. “We’re giving him a lot of information. We’re giving him the offense and you want to be able to go over the entire offense before the season is over, especially most of it, and work on it until the summer.”

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