Caleb Williams

Bears' simple advice to Caleb Williams shows why QB shouldn't have issue winning locker room

The Bears' veterans have given Caleb Williams the roadmap to winning the locker room

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Long before the Bears traded quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2025 conditional sixth-round pick, the veterans inside the locker room were bracing for his departure and the arrival of a new signal-caller.

Barring an unforeseen issue, that quarterback will be USC star Caleb Williams, who the Bears appear ready to select with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Wiliams will enter a locker room that was vocal in its support for Fields. But it's also a locker room that understands the business of the NFL and that general manager Ryan Poles believes Williams will give the Bears a better shot of contending for Super Bowl titles in the long run than Fields.

Given the strong support for Fields in the locker room, many on the outside have wondered how Williams will earn the respect and backing of a Bears' locker room that believes it can contend starting in 2024 -- a locker room that loved the guy Williams is replacing.

But that won't be as big of an obstacle as it appears.

Over the past month, several key Bears veterans have offered advice to Williams on how to win over the locker room, and all of them hit on the same themes: Hard work, authenticity, and humility.

“Be yourself," defensive end Montez Sweat told Chris Long on "Green Light with Chris Long." "Don’t try to do it all over tonight and just stay humble. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. You got a great group of guys around you. I know you seen the pieces: Keenan Allen, Swift from Philly. We got some guys around him. I could just – be humble and be yourself. He’s obviously a talented guy. Just don’t try to do it all in one night.”

Williams will have to prove himself to the group, but the Bears will have his back because they know he's there to help them win.

"You just humble yourself coming into the building," cornerback Jaylon Johnson told Kay Adams of Williams on "Up and Adams." "You can't bring that Hollywood stuff into the building especially with guys who have played the game at a high level for consecutive years -- myself, Tremaine [Edmunds], TJ [Edwards], Keenan Allen. We going to see through that. What you did in college, the Hollywood, it's like nah, you gotta prove yourself. That stuff, like, that doesn't matter.

"You gotta get to know him, too. I think there's a fine line between trying to prove a point to him but you also gotta get to know him. Because at the end of the day, we want him to be the absolute best he can be. That's what we're bringing him in for to win games. I think truly just learning who he is as a person and learning him deeper than all the Hollywood stuff you see, but actually trying to learn and get to know him and then knowing from there what pushes him. If it is trash talk, if trash talk makes him crumble, then I mean, I feel like we gotta push that button because people in the game, they're gonna push that button. Depending on whatever it is that he needs to be pushed at, that's our job and that's our duty as his teammates to make him better to strengthen his weaknesses."

Wide receiver DJ Moore, who was the most vocal in his support for Fields, kept it simple when asked how Williams could endear himself to the locker room.

"I hope he just comes in and gets ready to work," Moore told 670 The Score. "You can't worry about the legacy of Justin Fields. You got to go out there and worry (about your own thing).”

By all accounts, Williams is a terrific teammate and leader.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles said they have yet to find one person, be it a teammate or staff member, who doesn't love Williams.

There are no questions about his authenticity. His work ethic speaks for itself.

"You take a kid, that's pretty much the bulk of his life and all of his high school. I mean, he was waking up at four or five o'clock in the morning and going to the gym and working out on his own, you know, organizing a group of guys to go to catch for him or organizing a group of guys to go work for him," USC passing game coordinator Dennis Simmons told NBC Sports Chicago. "I mean, you know, that's not something that you coach, that’s something that someone has a passion for and enjoys doing it and wants to do.

"This kid's getting up every day, morning, day after day after day, because of hopes of one day being able to play on the stage and being able to fulfill a dream. I mean that tells you about the mentality and the character and the passion that he has for this game."

Sweat, Johnson, and Moore all were forceful in their support for Fields.

Sweat compared Fields to Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, while Moore was adamant that no rookie in the 2024 class could be better than Fields.

Now, they are all throwing their support behind Williams. That's how the business goes.

As long as he follows their advice and continues to be who he has been at USC, everything should be smooth sailing.

Williams is aware that he will have to work to earn the locker room's respect, but he doesn't feel that his leadership style will need to change drastically entering the Bears' locker room.

“I wouldn’t say I feel as I necessarily need to make a jump," Williams said. "There’s small things that you may need to correct or adapt to going into an NFL locker room where I’m 22 and people have kids and they are ranging on 35 and things like that. I would say just adapting to the situation, understanding what the team needs from me and going about it that way.”

Williams also believes that his different college experiences at Oklahoma and USC have prepared him to lead in whatever way the Bears need.

“So the cool thing about my experience is that all three years have been a bit different," Williams said. "This last year we went 7-5 and so my leadership needed to be different. The year before I came into a situation where we were 4-8 and so my leadership needed to be different. The year before I came in as a backup and I jumped up and became the starter so my leadership throughout times has been different. I think it has helped groom me for the situation I’m going into now.”

It's a situation that he appears set up to thrive in by being who he has always been: rigorous in his preparation, authentic in his self-presentation, and a killer on the field.

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