Establishing (Realistic) Expectations for Caleb Williams

| July 8th, 2024

The Bears have three rookies with a chance to play meaningful roles on offense or defense this year, so I want to take some time this week to look at what history can tell us about what to expect for those players, both in their rookie seasons and in their careers. We’ll start today with QB Caleb Williams, shift tomorrow to WR Rome Odunze, and end with a look at DE Austin Booker.

The Setup

To get a baseline for Caleb Williams, I looked at the last 10 QBs drafted 1st overall, going back to Sam Bradford in 2010. I only wanted to look at QBs drafted 1st overall because they are significantly different than other highly drafted QBs in a few notable ways:

  • They start immediately. 9 of the 10 #1 picks in this sample started at least 10 games as rookie, with an average of 14.3 starts. 5 of the 19 QBs drafted 2-10 in the same years started fewer than 10 games, with an average of only 10.8 starts for the sample.
  • They have better career outcomes. 7 of the 10 #1 picks in this sample earned significant 2nd contracts to be starting QBs, with the verdict still out on 2023 pick Bryce Young. Only 8 of 19 drafted 2-10 hit the same threshold (I am assuming CJ Stroud will as one of those 8), with the verdict still out on Anthony Richardson.

QBs are by far the most valuable players in the NFL, and so any QB who is widely regarded as a top-level prospect is going to get drafted #1 overall. Accordingly, I want to compare Williams directly to his peers, not to others who might get drafted highly out of desperation.

Rookie performance

With that setup in mind, let’s take a look at how these 10 QBs fared as rookies. Full data can be seen here, but the average stat line for these players was 504 pass attempts, 60% completion, 6.7 yards/attempt, 17 TD, 13 INT, and an 80.2 passer rating.

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All Gas No Brakes — Sharing The Most Recklessly Positive 2024 Chicago Bears Theories Possible

| June 13th, 2024

Traditionally, the Bear With Us podcast is a grounded, analysis-focused take on the Chicago Bears.

That’s great for the middle of the season, but right now it’s June. Theoretically we could always talk more about OTAs, or maybe talk about the Haason Reddick and Aaron Rodgers drama, but now that we’re into the dead of the offseason I had a better idea — for one week, Nick and I allowed ourselves to be as recklessly positive as we felt like. The episode that resulted is an absolute firecracker.

Tune into this week’s episode for:

  • My theory on how the Bears may be coincidentally positioned to catch the NFL in a 2-3 year downswing
  • Nick’s theory on Caleb Williams’ potential 2024 season results
  • A short discussion on whether Rome Odunze will end his career holding Chicago’s career WR yardage record… as well as whether he’ll be the first current Bear to claim it
  • And much, much more…

Your Turn: How are you feeling about the 2024 Chicago Bears?

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Another Quiet Monday Within A Quiet Summer Offseason

| June 3rd, 2024

Twitter embeds aren’t working on the site today, and I have no idea why. We’ll just have to make do.

Over the weekend, Caleb Williams walked into a Chicago bar and led a ‘Green Bay Sucks’ chant. Coming off of glowing OTA reports last weekend, it seems the young QB is quickly embracing what it means to paly for the Bears.

Is it a bit corny? Sure, especially given the team’s recent record against the Packers. But is it fun? Absolutely.

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With Caleb Williams Comes a “Little Bit of Star Quality”

| May 10th, 2024

“What’s new Buenos Aires?I’m new–I want to say I’m just a little stuck on youYou’ll be on me too!

I get out here Buenos AiresStand back–you ought to know what’cha gonna get in meJust a little touch of star quality!”

Evita, lyric by Tim Rice

What is star quality? How does one quantify it? Richard Zanuck, one of the producers of Jaws (and countless other non-shark films) tried to sum it, saying, “Star quality is one of the most difficult things to describe. It emanates from the person, and he may not even understand it himself. It’s a quality that separates the star from the rest of us.”

Star quality, when it comes to sports, is perhaps even more difficult to define than it is in Hollywood, but there are correlations. Michael Shannon and Campbell Scott and Cherry Jones are brilliant actors, but are they stars? Of course not. “I’m going to see the new Cherry Jones film” is a sentence that has never been uttered outside of my apartment. D.J. Moore and Jaylon Johnson are a brilliant wide receiver/corner combo, but how many tickets do you think the two players are responsible for selling? I would argue very, very few. If Jaylon Johnson walked into my local bar for trivia night, there’s a chance I wouldn’t even recognize him.

Brilliance does not equal stardom in sports, but it is a requirement, because stardom without brilliance is mere celebrity. The Kelce brothers are stars in the NFL not just because of pop star girlfriends, shirtless beer guzzling and a top podcast. That helps, and their personalities enable those things, but they are stars in the NFL because they complement those personalities with two of the greatest careers seen at their respective positions.

Baker Mayfield has the personality, but not the game. Justin Jefferson has the game, but not the personality. The list of those who combine both attributes is a short one and that’s what makes a Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Mike Singletary, Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor, Randy Moss, etc. so unique. Hell, Aaron Rodgers might three clubs (or more) short of a full golf bag but his stardom, and the attention it receives, are undeniable. (Joe Burrow and Cam Newton always struck me as fake stars. Great players who put on funny outfits to gain the attention they believe accompanies stardom.)

Cade McNown could have been the greatest QB to ever play but that “personality” was never going to breed stardom. Same with Rex Grossman and Mitch Trubisky. Jay Cutler had a remarkably unique personality, but he polarized the cities in which he played to such a degree that transcendent stardom seemed an impossibility. Justin Fields had electric moments on the field but offered very little elsewhere. Could you imagine Fields in these State Farm commercials Mahomes does?

Caleb already does the commercials. Dr. Pepper. Wendy’s. You name it.

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Caleb Williams Is Already Hard At Work This Offseason

| May 1st, 2024

This quote from a 670 The Score interview with Will Hewlett struck me yesterday — seems as if the Bears used the assurance that came from the #1 overall pick to give Chicago’s signal-caller a head start compared to most rookies.

Given that he’ll need to be a leader in offensive meetings as soon as possible, I love hearing that the Bears are doing everything they can to help him hit the ground running. That extra time with the offense’s basics should make initial installs that much more effective.

Also, early reports from Bears’ throwing sessions are that Caleb Williams is throwing with anticipation during early work with his receivers. DJ Moore expands below:

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Dare We Dream Of Rome (Odunze)?

| April 24th, 2024

Let me be honest with you — I haven’t allowed myself to think about Ryan Poles drafting any of the ‘Big 3’ Wide Receivers (Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze) for two reasons:

  1. It’s seemed more and more likely over time that all three of those WRs will be drafted by #8 (with Atlanta trading out of their pick and allowing a WR-needy team to jump Chicago)
  2. If one of those WRs did fall to 9, it’s seemed like an obvious Ryan Poles move to subsequently dangle that 3rd WR as a trade chip for the WR-needy team described in Atlanta’s deal above, giving Ryan Poles a few more picks in the 2024 draft.

This logic made sense to me for a long time. But a few things happened yesterday that have me wondering if Ryan Poles has an explosive move planned for mid-Thursday night.

First off, when asked about whether Ryan Poles felt any need to add picks in this draft he had this to say:

Is that gamesmanship? Could be, but Ryan Poles has a habit of being unusually honest with the media in open sessions. I’ll never forget standing at Poles’ presser at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine where he all but told the media that he wanted to trade #1 overall before the start of Free Agency. Within days, the pick had been dealt.

But Poles (potentially) sticking at #9 doesn’t automatically signal interest in Odunze being the pick. The Bears could easily stick at #9 and take any of the popular pass-rushers on the board — names like Byron Murphy, Jared Verse, Dallas Turner come to mind.

But search presumed #1 Overall Pick Caleb Williams’ social media, and you’ll find a budding relationship blooming with he and Rome Odunze — is this a smoke screen? Or a smoke signal? You tell me.

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