Chicago Bears Fans Need to Be Patient With Caleb Williams

Player development is not linear. Let's keep that in mind during Caleb Williams' rookie season with the Chicago Bears.
Chicago Bears Rookie Minicamp
Chicago Bears Rookie Minicamp / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The 2024 NFL Draft is over and quarterback Caleb Williams has officially participated in his first team activities with the Chicago Bears. There's a palpable buzz around the team. But the Bears have won nothing yet.

Bears fans are hopeful that Williams, along with new wide receivers Keenan Allen and fellow rookie Rome Odunze, can help lead this team back to the playoffs. The defense is considered strong, so if the offense plays up to expectations, perhaps this Bears team can go from 7-10 to a winning record and perhaps a berth in the postseason.

There's just one problem -- Williams and Odunze have yet to play an NFL down. There is no guarantee of success. Even if Williams and/or Odunze will end up being great players, there may be bumps along the way.

Let's focus on Williams. He's been projected to be a "generational" talent. And he may very well be. But it might not be easy at the start. Peyton Manning, who is arguably one of the best QBs of all time, was awful in his rookie season. Other star quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers sat for a spell before getting the keys to the offense.

I write this not to suggest Williams won't succeed -- as a Bears fan, I hope he does, no matter how much I liked the previous QB -- but rather, as a cautionary tale for impatient Bears fans. The fanbase is fired up right now, and that's great. Everything looks great when no one is getting hit. But it's likely there will be a bad game or two from Williams this season. Bears fans need to keep that in mind and not panic and turn on Williams the first time he throws three or four picks in a loss.

Player development is not linear. It's very possible, and probably very likely, that Williams may follow a very good or even great game with a stinker. He could struggle to start, or start hot and then struggle as defenses adjust.

We saw it with Mitch Trubisky and Justin Fields. Trubisky mostly struggled -- and it's since become clear that he's probably not NFL starter material -- but he also had a six-touchdown game. Fields seemed to making the leap in year two, only to struggle at the start of 2023 (in part due to poor coaching, in this author's opinion) before bouncing back a bit. He bounced back enough that a significant portion of the fanbase lobbied for his return.

Now it's Williams' turn. And while he could follow in C.J. Stroud's footsteps and put up Pro Bowl numbers while leading his team to the postseason, it's more likely that he has an up-and-down season as he learns the ropes of playing starting quarterback in the NFL. What Stroud did is pretty rare.

This is something that Chicago fans need to bear in mind. Even if Caleb Williams is putting on a Hall of Fame blazer 15-20 years from now, his rookie season might not be pretty. Fans are excited now, and they'll need to remember that even the best players often have a learning curve to deal with as rookies. Otherwise, a fickle fanbase could turn on Williams at the first sign of struggle.

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