At this point, the Bears season needs to be taken for what it is: a developmental year.
Forget the grand illusion that this team could be in the crowded NFC playoff picture if not for a couple of bounces going their way the last two games.
After suffering their second consecutive loss, this time blowing a double-digit fourth-quarter lead to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars — a bottom feeder in arguably the worst division in the NFL — it would behoove the Bears to use the remaining 10 games to see which players on their roster could be potential building-blocks for 2017 and beyond.
One of those potential building-blocks is wide receiver Cameron Meredith.
Meredith has been thrust into a key role and tasked with playing a larger part in the Bears offense due to former No. 1 pick Kevin White going on IR with a broken leg earlier this month. White's departure has been Meredith's gain as he continues to produce at a high clip and deliver the type of production the Bears thought they would be getting out of White.
For the second straight game, Meredith led all Bears wideouts in receptions (11), yards (113) and targets (15). Pair that with his performance in a Week 5 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Meredith now has accrued an eye-opening 27 targets and hauled in 20 catches for 243 yards and a touchdowns in his last two games.
"Cam is a playmaker when he gets the ball and he's made some plays with it," Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer said.
To see Meredith continue to put up impressive stat lines has been a pleasant surprise in a season that's been mired by disappointment. And what's been even more stunning in Meredith's sudden rise is the fact that he's only been playing wide receiver for a few years
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!].
The 24-year-old starred as a quarterback at St. Joseph High School in Chicago's western suburbs and after not getting any FBS-level offers, enrolled at Illinois State where he served as Redbirds' backup quarterback in 2011 and 2012 before transitioning to wide receiver in 2013.
After going undrafted and receiving an invite to minicamp in 2015, Meredith ultimately played his way onto the Bears' final 53-man roster. This past preseason, Meredith had to do it all over again and fight for his roster spot in a crowded wide receiver group.
The Bears decision to keep him around could pay major dividends as the front office builds for the future.
"I think it's just getting the reps, honestly," Meredith said. "The more I'm out there, the more confidence I'm getting in my hands and routes and stuff like that, and also in my preparation during the week. I'm just going to continue to work on that and continue to get better and grow and come like that every week."