Chicago Bears WR Cameron Meredith has been one of the team's biggest surprises this season.
The second-year receiver currently leads the Bears with 62 catches, 827 receiving yards and 4 TDs. He has four 100-yard outings this year and if he tops 173 receiving yards in the season finale, he'll break the 1,000-yard barrier.
That would be an impressive feat for a receiver who was a healthy scratch the first two weeks of the regular season.
Over the past four weeks, Meredith has the 7th most receiving yards (378) in the NFL and he's coming off back-to-back 100-yard showings.
To get a better feel for Meredith's strengths and weaknesses, I broke down All-22 game film from the past two weeks. Here's what I found:
Meredith (blue) is lined up in the right slot, bunched closely with WR Josh Bellamy (yellow). The two wideouts will run run 15 yards up the field before executing a deep cross. The Redskins are in zone coverage.
Meredith and Bellamy begin their cross routes at the 10-yard line. This is going to put stress on the boundary corner, who has deep third responsibility. He's currently trailing Bellamy but will need to switch to Meredith once they cross.
The boundary cornerback has to quickly try and change direction as Meredith crosses over the top and toward the back corner of the end zone.
Meredith creates easy separation and makes the catch for the touchdown.
On the near side, TE Daniel Brown and WR Deonte Thompson will run a two-man combo route. Thompson will run a deep go route, while Brown will run a quick out toward the left flat. This will open up the intermediate portion of the field. Meredith will come from the opposite slot and cross into that open intermediate area.
Meredith has inside leverage at this point but he leans into the defender just before his break, trying to put the slot corner on his heels before bursting in the opposite direction. This is a subtle technique receivers use to try and create separation.
Meredith doesn't create much separation but he turns his head around immediately, giving him the opportunity to make a play on the ball. Notice the location of QB Matt Barkley's pass, which is well outside the hash where only his receiver can make the catch.
Meredith reaches out and snatches the ball, with a defender in his hip, for a first down.
This three-man route concept is the same as the previous play, only this time Meredith is lined up wide of Thompson (deep route) and Brown (short route).
Meredith runs a deep curl route in between his teammates and sits in the zone just outside the right hash.
Barkley's timing on this pass is perfect and he fits the ball into a tight window between two defenders. Meredith makes the catch at the 16-yard line.
Meredith sprints past two defenders and breaks a tackle from the cornerback.
He's finally dragged down at the 1-yard line. This play is our first example of Meredith's after-the-catch ability, which is one of his biggest strengths as a receiver.
This is a play-action naked bootleg. Meredith (blue) runs a short curl route. Barkely (red) is pressured by the play-side linebacker and doesn't see TE Ben Braunecker (yellow), who will come wide open on the intermediate cross. Instead, Barkley will have to fire a quick pass to Meredith underneath.
Meredith makes the catch and will spin off his outside shoulder. The cornerback doesn't anticipate the outside spin and his momentum will cary him inside.
Meredith spins away from the first tackle, cuts inside the next defender and picks up 10 yards after the catch.
Meredith is running a stop and go route. He stems eight yards and makes a quit cut to the outside before turning up the field.
The slot corner bites on the first move and Meredith creates immediate separation out of the second move. He angles toward the middle of the field, away from the near-side safety.
Meredith elevates for the 36-yard catch.
Our final snap is a run-pass option. The play is designed as a pitch left to RB Jordan Howard. On the weak side, Meredith has single coverage and an 11-yard cushion, with no safety help deep. The Packers have overloaded the box to stop Howard.
Notice the offensive line is run blocking on a stretch zone left, yet Barkley is throwing to Meredith wide right. The flow up front carries Green Bay's front seven away from Meredith initially.
Meredith makes the catch and cuts inside the boundary corner, who is quickly closing ground.
Meredith breaks the tackle and has nothing but green grass ahead of him. He picks up 17 yards after the catch before being run out of bounds.
Meredith is a converted quarterback from Illinois State who has only play wide receiver the past five years. He had just 11 catches as a rookie last year, so other than his ideal size (6-3, 210) Meredith was still a relative unknown heading into his sophomore campaign.
On film, we've seen considerable growth from the former undrafted free agent. He uses his size and length well, he has dependable hands and very good body control, and he's very dangerous after the catch. When you combine that with his height, you have the makings a very dangerous NFL-level wideout.
We've seen that over the past month, as well as during his back-to-back 100-yard outings earlier in the year. At times, Meredith has been unstoppable, finding success using the entire route tree. He has the leaping ability to be a deep-ball threat, plus the short-area quickness and post-catch ability to turn underneath catches into big gains.
There are very few holes to Meredith's game. He doesn't have elite speed but he more than makes up for that with his size and long strides.
Meredith has developed rapidly the past two seasons but still hasn't reached his ceiling. That's exciting. If he's playing like a No. 1 receiver now, what type of playmaker will he be when he reaches his ceiling?
Bottom line: The Bears found a diamond in the rough with Meredith, who should be one of the main focal points of the passing attack, with or without Jeffery, going forward.null