OC Shane Waldron optimistic about Bears' offense

With a rookie quarterback in Caleb Williams and new weapons in place, the first-year coordinator wouldn’t set the bar too high for a fast start. But he sees the potential. “Guys are bought in. The personalities are jelling. The people are great. So with that, the results will come.”

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Bears rookie quarterback Caleb Williams in minicamp.

Rookie quarterback Caleb Williams will enter training camp as the Bears’ starting quarterback.

Nam Y. Huh/AP Photos

The Bears’ offense is a work in progress in offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s first season, as it should be in June. But for how long?

With the expectation of playoff contention in 2024, the onus is on Waldron to avoid the chronic lament of most Bears offenses that have either a new coordinator or a new starting quarterback over the years — “A work in progress.” Or “We’re still in the first year of this offense.” Or, “It’s a 17-game season.”

The Bears’ offense has both a new coordinator in Waldron and a new quarterback in rookie Caleb Williams.. While coach Matt Eberflus’ defense is expected to carry the bulk of the load in the early going, it’s unlikely Waldron’s offense will be able to spend the entire 2024 season on training wheels for the Bears to contend for a playoff berth.

This offense has the wind at its back compared to recent Bears offenses with either a new quarterback (Mitch Trubisky in 2017, Justin Fields in 2021) or a new coordinator (Adam Gase in 2015, Dowell Loggains in 2016, Matt Nagy in 2018 and Luke Getsy in 2022).

The Bears not only have an extraordinary prospect at quarterback in Williams, but also a better supporting cast — veteran wide receivers DJ Moore and Keenan Allen; rookie wide receiver Rome Odunze, the No. 9 pick in the draft; Pro Bowl running back D’Andre Swift; tight end Cole Kmet coming off a career-best season. And the offensive line, while regarded as mediocre, has two potential stalwarts in guard Teven Jenkins and right tackle Darnell Wright, the No. 10 pick in the 2023 draft.

The last time a first-year coordinator had that kind of talent to work with — head coach Marc Trestman in 2013 — the Bears finished second in the NFL in scoring with quarterback Jay Cutler (and Josh McCown) and an all-star cast of wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, running back Matt Forte, tight end Martellus Bennett and an offensive line that included Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long.

This offense figures to have its growing pains, especially with a rookie quarterback, but also has the potential to hit the ground running — as the Texans did last year with a similar cast, including rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, and went from 30th to 13th in the NFL in scoring.

Waldron wasn’t about to go there when asked about it Wednesday. No sense setting the bar too high too early.

“For us, it’s about living in the moment,” Waldron said after the Bears completed their offseason program at Halas Hall. “I know there are different storylines that get written about the broader picture outside the building, but for us inside the building it’s hard to visualize more than the next day.

“I think living in that mindset will help us armor up for the different ebbs and flows that happened in the past. Not that we’re not aware of them. You study around the league and see different things that happen. Every season, every team, every situation is different. So I can’t predict the future with that. I know we can work hard and work to put our best product on the field as soon as possible.”

As for the popular (and fair) Texans comparison, Waldron wasn’t going to go there, either.

“I think we can be the best version of the 2024 Bears,” he said, “so comparisons to different teams, to me, aren’t what we’re looking at in terms of saying those are apples to apples.”

But Waldron at least acknowledged one reality — that these Bears, for all their inexperience together, have some factors in their favor.

“We feel like we have good pieces around our structure right now,” Waldron said. “And guys are bought-in. The personalities are jelling. The people are great. So with that, the results will come. So we’ll stick with the process. We’ll stick with our daily improvement and that daily grind, and the results will happen.”

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