Caleb Williams

Jaylon Johnson isn't all in on the Caleb Williams hype just yet

Johnson talked candidly about Caleb Williams on the "Up & Adams" show with Kay Adams

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Jaylon Johnson said it best. The Bears have "checked 99% of the boxes" this offseason.

But they have yet to check off the biggest one with their quarterback dilemma. They've done the heavy lifting, trading Justin Fields to the Steelers and allowing him to start the next chapter of his career for a team he requested to play for.

The front office hasn't entirely nailed down who their next quarterback will be. But everyone knows it'll likely be Caleb Williams, USC's signal caller who's been regarded as a "generational talent" this offseason. The Bears still have to evaluate his character with a top-30 visit and receive his medicals.

How will Johnson react if the Bears ultimately land on Williams as their next quarterback?

"Of course, I'll be excited," Johnson said on "Up & Adams." "I think, for me, you kinda hear all the comparisons, the 'generational talent' and all that being thrown around. So I think for me I'm just excited on that note of it. But I think, too, it's hard to compare him to Patrick Mahomes and guys like that. Patrick Mahomes didn't come in right away and do what he's been doing the last few years in his rookie year. It took him some time.

"He sat behind Alex Smith, he went through a process, he learned from Andy Reid, he learned from Alex Smith, a veteran quarterback. So I think for me it's one of those things with being patient with his progress, being patient with how he comes in and the mistakes he's gonna make and the plays that he's gonna make. He's a very talented guy. He can definitely do some things with his feet. He has plenty of arm talent. I feel like there's not a throw that he can't make."

Williams is known for his well-rounded talent. He played a lot of "hero ball" for the Trojans this season, as their roster was depleted of top-level talent. With that, he displayed his off-platform abilities, off-script playmaking, footwork, arm talent, mobility and awareness. You name it. Williams has it.

There's a lot of confidence from Williams' corner. It's evident from his pinned post on X that reads "I’m Not a Businessman; I’m a Business, Man!" Williams has remained stoic about his chances of going to the Bears but has expressed his dream to be the No. 1 pick.

Johnson isn't hearing all of the Williams hype just yet. He's not ready to let Williams waltz through Halas Hall as the big man on campus. He's ready to challenge Williams but in a productive, team-oriented manner.

"What you did in college, the Hollywood, it's like 'Nah, you gotta prove yourself,'" Johnson said. "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."

Johnson's proving himself as one of the leaders on the team. He's set a firm example of his worth as one of the two non-Ryan Poles drafted players to be rewarded by the front office. The Bears re-signed him to a four-year extension worth $76 million earlier this month.

With that contract comes a lot of responsibility, not just with on-the-field production, but also with leadership and the ability to make others around him better. That's what Johnson's focused on with Williams and newcomers like Keenan Allen.

Still, there was a tinge of "Are you really better than Fields?" in his answers on the show about Williams. Like the Bears locker room, Johnson fully supported the front office keeping Fields and trading down the No. 1 pick for a haul.

And seeing Fields be traded to the Steelers stung Johnson, considering all they went through and how much time they spent together. Johnson valued his time watching Fields develop into a better player and person.

"For me, I was kinda preparing myself for the worst," Johnson said. "Alright, let's just already process Justin being traded. And then even just having that last little bit of hope was something that I held onto a little bit. But when you actually see it come across your page on ESPN and the ticker going off it's like 'Damn, my dog really isn't gonna be with us no more.'

"It's tough because he came in with me when I was young, my second year, and he was a rookie. So seeing him grow as a person and a player, I think for me it was something that I really enjoyed. Now seeing him go to the Steelers is just another thing I can support and continue to support him from the outside looking in. I wish him nothing but the best until, of course, he plays us."

From Johnson's view, Williams has big shoes to fill in Fields' absence. And he's not ready to say Williams has earned the spot upon him simply stepping foot in Halas Hall.

"He'll win the spot as long as he throws the ball to the other side of the field," Johnson said of Williams.

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