The Games of the Weak feature the 0-3 Broncos at the 0-3 Bears and the 0-3 Vikings at the 0-3 Panthers.
The Caleb Williams Bowls.
The Panthers just made Bryce Young the first pick of the 2023 draft and will not be moving on from him the way the Cardinals did when they discarded first-round pick Josh Rosen for Kyler Murray. So they won’t be bowling for Williams.
But given what we have witnessed from Justin Fields in Year 3, the Bears wouldn’t be able to resist the urge in their eternal quest for a franchise quarterback.
And should the Vikings enter into a freefall, they would salivate over the prospect of Williams throwing missiles to Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson, since this is the last year of Kirk Cousins’ contract.
Sean Payton’s Broncos won’t be surrendering 70 points every week, and it’s difficult imagining him unable to keep the ship from sinking, but you better believe Williams would be a godsend for him when and if he chooses to cut the club’s prohibitive financial losses on Russell Wilson before the 2024 season.
It would be a mistake to sleep on the 1-2 Jets, of course, but if they could find a way to miss out on Trevor Lawrence and settle for Zach Wilson, they could find a way to miss out on Williams, who would be a no-brainer pick even with 40-year-old Aaron Rodgers pulling the strings.
The 1-2 Cardinals are currently a dark horse, but it would surprise no one if they were to join any race to the bottom no matter when Murray, who needs a change of scenery, returns to make his 2023 debut. And the Raiders, Titans, Falcons, Buccaneers and Texans, who have their franchise quarterback in C.J. Stroud, are capable enough to crumble without any need to tank.
Now, about this Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner from USC who is the favorite to repeat. Asked what his elite traits are, peerless NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah told Serby Says: “I would say the creativity would be the first. His ability to feel pressure and navigate around pressure with creativity and flair is unlike anybody that I’ve seen. [Patrick] Mahomes is obviously the standard on that stuff, but he does some crazier stuff than even Mahomes was doing at Texas Tech.
“To me, the other thing he has that’s really elite is his body strength, not just the arm, he’s got a huge arm. But just his ability to step through tackles, his ability to pull away from people, the strength of how he moves — everything’s just done with a real force.”
Crazier stuff than Mahomes? “You’ll see him just running all over the place behind the line of scrimmage, climbing up, wheeling out, reversing field, then taking off and running … Mahomes had some wild plays at Texas Tech where he’s running all over the place, but I feel like Caleb’s done even more of that,” Jeremiah said. “It’s a little more of a controlled chaos with him. Mahomes was teetering on reckless at times at Texas Tech — he had to be ’cause they had to score a million points to win every game. Caleb does all this crazy stuff, then doesn’t turn the ball over, which is pretty incredible.”
Oh, and that big right arm. “Elite arm strength,” Jeremiah said, “and accuracy, especially on drive throws is excellent. I would say he’s well above the line on every throw, but the drive throws, really power the ball with accuracy, is probably his greatest strength.”
There hasn’t been this much hype about a quarterback prospect since Lawrence was headed from Clemson to Jacksonville. Before Lawrence, it was Stanford’s Andrew Luck replacing Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Only in the eyes of Andy Reid was Mahomes that type of transcendent prospect. Only in the eyes of Dabo Swinney was Deshaun Watson in such a class.
“He’s in that group, that Andrew Luck group, Trevor Lawrence was in that group, he would be in that group with those guys,” Jeremiah said.
Because Williams is a junior, Jeremiah cannot discuss his NFL prospects until after he officially declares for the draft.
“He’s gonna have to play a little bit more in structure at the next level than he does in college,” Jeremiah said, “maybe get rid of the ball a little quicker at times. I haven’t seen any red flags of stuff that I think would really scare you. I think he’s pretty special.”
Williams is listed generously at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds. “I wish he was 6-4, absolutely,” Jeremiah said. “People that have seen him just said if you threw 2 ¹/₂ inches on Russell Wilson, that’s what it looks like. Russell is so sturdy and so strong and didn’t seem to have issues with it, so I don’t anticipate any issues with him. He’s got such rare arm strength, that if you need him to get deeper in the pocket, if you need him to take a full five-step drop from the gun just to get further from the line of scrimmage so he can survey and see everything, he’s got such a freaky arm that he could play the position 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage and be fine.”
Williams started playing for Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma before following his coach to USC. “You saw just marked improvement in a very short amount of time with him,” Jeremiah said, “but the high end stuff, you could see in the very first game.”
Randy Trivers was Williams’ head coach at Gonzaga College H.S. in D.C. “Prior to his freshman season,” Trivers told Serby Says, “he’d make certain throws, and you’d say, ‘OK, that was impressive, let’s see if he can do it again,’ or maybe, ‘The kid is talented but a little bit lucky.’ And then you see him make that throw again. And then you see him make that throw again. So whether it was in our summer training and then into training camp, it started to dawn on us that, ‘Wow, this guy’s able to do some unique things with this football in his hands.’ ”
Trivers was amazed at how Williams could slow the game down and process before the snap. “Within competitive situations as a young player, he wasn’t fazed where you could see generally a kid that age, that young, playing quarterback, it’s all happening very, very fast for them,” Trivers said. “But this dude, where he should have been reading word for word and sounding out the syllables, he was reading a paragraph, and he was flowing.”
The kid always wanted the ball in his hands when there was a game to be won. “A great combination of confidence, poise, intensity … competitiveness,” Trivers said. “A lot of people are competitive, but he really thrives on it. The better the opponent, the bigger the challenge, the more he really actually wants that, the more he thrives on that. Sometimes the fear of failure drives people to … ‘I don’t know if I really want that.’ Whereas this guy, there’s something about the idea of failing is more fuel for him. It’s not something that makes him fearful. So it’s like having the ball in your hand for the last shot type of thing in basketball. Or being at the plate with two strikes on you and two outs in the game. Some people, like, ‘Oh my God, this is not where I want to be.’ But this dude, that’s exactly where he wants to be. There’s a poise under these circumstances that’s contagious.”
Trivers recalled Williams’ first touchdown pass as a freshman. “We were playing the Gilman School, and he throws a 65-yard tight spiral on a ‘go’ route and hits a receiver, Dean Engram, in stride,” Trivers said. “His last pass of his career is the Hail Mary throw that he makes, the 56-yard touchdown pass with no time on the clock on his birthday, the 18th of November of 2018, to win the WCAC Championship. That’s how he started, and then, that’s how it ended. And then a lot of good stuff in between.”
For now, Williams is an NIL All-Star and fashionista. Who ruffled a few feathers when he painted his nails with “F— Utah” before the game. “That’s highly correctable,” Jeremiah said, and laughed.
Trivers is not surprised at how Williams has taken the college football world by storm. “Nothing surprises me, because I was living it with him every day,” Trivers said. “There’s something that’s just uniquely different and special about this athlete that makes him what he is, the 88th Heisman Trophy winner, and maybe 89th.”
And maybe the 90th as well …
“If there’s not a good situation, the truth is, he can come back to school,” his father, Carl Williams, told GQ Magazine.
Oh how the winner of the Caleb Williams Bowl must hate to hear that.