While Alshon Jeffery missed four games with a PED suspension and struggled to find consistency with quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, Cameron Meredith was making plays – and a name for himself.
But no one could have expected this kind of a breakout. On the year, Meredith led the team in targets (97), catches (66), receiving yards (888), and tied for the team-lead in touchdowns (4), all in his second year in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus put together a collection of the league’s best receivers for each type of route that was run. It’s a unique way to look at receivers because, while speed and hands are things that always show up on highlight reels, sometimes the routes run by these receivers on the way to getting open can be overlooked. And for as poor as the Bears’ group of receivers performed overall 2016, there should be no reason to overlook the fact that Meredith owned the best double move (with a minimum of four targeted routes) in the NFL.
“Cameron Meredith scored four touchdowns in 2016, two on double moves. Meredith caught all 5 of his targets for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had a perfect receiver rating of 158.3 and averaged 26.2 yards per catch. He caught 37 of the 49 passes thrown to him when running just the first aspect of the route i.e. just the slant, not the slant and go, which lured defenders into sitting on the first move, allowing Meredith to explode by them.”
Here is a perfect example of how Meredith used a double move to create his first touchdown grab of the season in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts:
Watch how Meredith baits the cornerback (who bites hard on the move), and bursts past him to get through to the second level, creating enough space to haul in the touchdown. It’s a savvy move by a second-year receiver, which suggests he (and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains) could only be starting to tap into Meredith’s potential.
The group of wide receivers who lined up for the Chicago Bears in 2016 didn’t instill much confidence with how it performed collectively last season. Sure, the quarterback play was less than stellar, but notable drops, less-than-precise route running, and an overall lack of depth were reasons the Bears offense struggled to perform consistently.
However, Meredith’s breakout season provides a glimmer of hope for whomever the next Bears quarterback happens to be.