Bears

While Bears continue downward spiral, Cameron Meredith opening eyes in Chicago

While Bears continue downward spiral, Cameron Meredith opening eyes in Chicago

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."

Matt Nagy listed among coaches on the hot seat in 2020

Matt Nagy listed among coaches on the hot seat in 2020

It's been quite a first two years in Chicago for Bears coach Matt Nagy.

After winning an NFC North title in a 12-win, first season on the job in 2018, Nagy's Bears regressed to a .500 club last season that couldn't get out of its own way on offense, his supposed specialty. With 32 games on his resume and a 20-12 overall record as head coach, the Bears could do a lot worse.

Remember John Fox? Remember Marc Trestman? Never forget.

RELATED: Chicago Bears 7-round Mock Draft

But the NFL is a win-now, win-always, just-win league. Nagy didn't do that in 2019, and when combined with the Super Bowl expectations the Bears began the year with, his shortcomings were magnified.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky got worse, the offensive line was a turnstile and the running game didn't exist for most of the year.

All this from Nagy's offense that was hyped as Level 202 during training camp.

The hype is over, and the pressure is on. With pressure comes the proverbial hot seat, and Nagy was recently pegged as one of five coaches who will begin next season with a warm buttock by Bleacher Report. 

Nagy's offense and the play of a costly investment by the name of Mitchell Trubisky dramatically regressed in 2019. The Bears managed just 17.5 points per game while Trubisky produced a mere 17 touchdowns against 10 picks. Little in the way of offensive identity existed while the running game averaged 3.7 yards per carry and one ball-carrier (David Montgomery) surpassed the 300-yard mark.

It doesn't help that the defense went from allowing a league-best 17.7 points per game with 50 sacks in 2018 to 18.6 and 32, respectively, fueling the idea of a regression without defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and putting a further damper on things. 

The Bears, given the investment in Trubisky and pieces like All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack, have higher expectations than most teams. Going into 2020, another 8-8 season probably isn't going to cut it. 

Nagy's job security will come down to his handling of Trubisky. If the former No. 2 overall pick delivers more of the same in 2020, Nagy has to prove he has the courage to make the change under center. Otherwise, he'll come across as nothing more than GM Ryan Pace's pawn in the quarterback game.

It's true the fates of Pace and Nagy fate are likely tied together. As the 2020 season goes, so goes their future with the team. They have to be in lockstep about Trubisky, and self-preservation is a very powerful thing. Don't expect Trubisky's leash to be all that long.   

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Bears meet with FIU quarterback at East-West Shrine Bowl

Bears meet with FIU quarterback at East-West Shrine Bowl

The Bears' quest to flip their quarterback room from a group of underwhelming veterans with little upside behind Mitch Trubisky is already off and running.

According to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, the Bears met with FIU quarterback James Morgan at the 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl, the second-largest All-Star game of the NFL draft circuit.

Morgan (6-foot-4, 223) completed 58 percent of his passes last season for 2,560 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. He isn't considered a draftable player at this point in the process, but a strong showing in front of scouts at the Shrine Bowl could change that. 

Morgan had a more productive 2018 campaign when he threw 26 touchdowns to just seven interceptions while completing more than 65 percent of his passes. 

RELATED: Chicago Bears 7-round Mock Draft

Bears fans are expecting a bigger move at quarterback than Morgan, but if Chicago adds a veteran in free agency, they're more likely to wait until Day 3 to draft a developmental prospect, if any at all. It's possible Trubisky will be backed up (at least initially) by a player like Andy Dalton to begin the year, while a youngster like Morgan sharpens his skill set on the practice squad.

Next week's Senior Bowl will help put some of the pieces of this puzzle together. Quarterbacks Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) and Jordan Love (Utah State) are both considered late first-round prospects who could easily slide into Round 2. If the Bears spend time with them in Mobile, it could be a strong clue about their second-round plans.

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