When you’re coming off a three win campaign, the expectations for excitement are usually pretty low. But when you’re talking about a relatively young team, with a number of prospects that are primed to surprise/breakout in 2017, like the Chicago Bears, then our excitement levels are sure to spike.
Plus, this is the offseason, if we can’t get excited about our favorite team now, then when can we get excited?
I posed the above question to the staff at Windy City Gridiron and also to Bears’ fans via our Twitter account. I’ll share some of their responses later, but first, let me tell you about the player I’m most excited about. I actually have four players I’m looking forward to seeing grow in 2017, but I’ll keep it to one since so many others will get mentioned later.
Third year pro, wide receiver, Cameron Meredith
As a fan, his development has been fun to watch. He went from undrafted free agent, to a roster hopeful, to a bottom of the depth chart player, to starting receiver, to leading receiver, in two short years. Not bad for a guy that started his college career at Illinois State, as a quarterback.
As a rookie, he played in 136 snaps on offense and another 30 on special teams. He hauled in 11 caches for 120 yards, with 5 of his receptions going for 1st downs. His second year found him near the bottom of the depth chart early in the season, as evidenced by him not playing until week three, when he only played on 14 offensive snaps. But he earned more playing time, at first due to injury, but his play did improve every week.
He ended up starting 11 of the 14 games he played in, with 703 snaps on offense. He caught 66 balls, for 888 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Also 66% of his receptions went for 1st downs.
According to reports, he was having a fantastic offseason until he tore ligaments in his thumb. He’s expected to be ready for training camp, so he’ll have plenty of time to work with the new Bear quarterbacks.
Here’s what a few of our WCG writers had to say about the Bears’ player they’re most excited for in 2017.
- Josh Sunderbruch - “Leonard Floyd. My biases being what they are, I am always going to prefer a defensive star to an offensive star, and I really want to see him develop. A close second is Adam Shaheen, because the Bears have needed a true weapon at tight end for a while now.”
- Andrew Link went with Floyd as well, be he also mentioned Kevin White because he thinks “we should spread the love.”
- Sam Householder - “Leonard Floyd is my pick. By all accounts he's poised to breakout this year and build on his solid rookie season. Hopefully he's bigger and stronger, and can be healthier, and learn better technique. I'm pumped to see what he can do. Especially since this year's rookie class doesn't look like they will have a fantastic impact this season.”
- Ken Mitchell - “Excited for? Leonard Floyd. Most interested in seeing how well he does? Mike Glennon. Floyd has a chance of being spectacular so to me he's the obvious player to get excited about. Having said that, I'm hoping for 'league average' from Glennon. That would really set us up perfectly.”
- Robert Zeglinski - “It's without a doubt Leonard Floyd (surprising coming from me, I know). Barring any health issues, I fully expect him to make a jump to top-10 pass rusher in the NFL this season. I can't remember the last time the Bears had a homegrown passer with that ceiling and Floyd is definitely capable. By January, it's my belief that he'll be known as the best player on the Bears roster.”
- Jacob Infante - “I'm most excited to see Cameron Meredith. It'll be his first full year as the top receiver, so I'm looking forward to see if he can build upon his breakout 2016 season.”
- EJ Snyder - “Offense: Meredith - He's shown all the signs of progressing to become a top target at WR. I think his rise will continue if the QB situation gets settled quickly. Defense: True toss-up between Floyd (poised for a big second year if stays healthy), Marcus Cooper (newcomer with size at a position of need, that seems to have a terrific attitude) and Eddie Jackson (flashy player that could contribute in 2 phases [defense and special teams]). I'll roll the dice and go with Cooper. It's been a while since the Bears truly had anything to write home about at CB (excluding Tracy Porter's Lazarus-like rise in '15, that got basically zero press coverage).”
- Jack M Silverstein - “Player I'm most excited for as a fan who loves entertaining football is Leonard Floyd, for all the reasons that everyone already cited. But the player I'm most interested in seeing is Jordan Howard. The Bulldozer broke Matt Forte's franchise rookie rushing record. Forte broke A-Train's. A-Train's broke Salaam's. Salaam fell off after his rookie year. Thomas fell off after Year 3. Forte was an all-time great Bear. I think Year Two will start to tell us where Howard might land on that continuum.”
- Patti Curl is most excited to see Cameron “Mere Bear” Meredith, and she’s most interested in Kevin White.
“My first instinct was to say Floyd, but I realize I'm more nervous than excited for Floyd. We have something valuable in Floyd if he just maintains his performance from last season. I feel like it's an expensive vase on the corner of my coffee table.”
“With Meredith, watching him come out of nowhere and continued to exceed my expectations and impress me (Titans game aside) has me coming into the season excited to see him surprise and impress me more.”
“As far as White goes, I feel like the vase has already fallen from the edge of the coffee table. But I can't stop watching to see if maybe it lands on something soft. I am a bit of a slob so chances are decent there is a pillow or a cat on the floor there.”
And here are a few responses to our question via Twitter.
@JHowardx24 I think he has an even better year especially if the line stays healthy with @Ky1eLong back. #buckleyourchinstrap— Aaron (@Ditkapunch187) July 7, 2017
Shaheen .. if he's an impact player that changes the offense in so many ways— Paul Rieken (@PaulRieken) July 7, 2017
Eddie Jackson.— Jason Squires (@BarberSquires) July 6, 2017
The entire team. They got most of the pieces in place, it's just a matter of maturing and putting everything together.— Usayd Koshul (@630sportsnews) July 6, 2017
Leonard Floyd & his proper tackling technique & the rise of "sources" saying Mitch Trubisky is quickly gaining steam inside the Coaches room— Hello Jerry (@JerryScherwin) July 6, 2017
Howard! That man is a BEAST!— Erica (@SaneBSBfan98) July 6, 2017
Our front 7, if it can finally stay healthy. I just think the Defense can be top 10 if healthy. Goldman,Hicks,Floyd,Mcphee,Travathan,Young— #BearFanInGreenBay (@BearFanInGrb) July 7, 2017
I really wanted to say a defensive player, but the offense needs to improve for the Bears to win so Jordan Howard it is!— Jarred Smith (@MrSmith8201) July 7, 2017
Three words... ROY ROBERTSON-HARRIS!!!— nick stiglic (@NickStiglic) July 7, 2017
The transition from OLB to DE is gunna be so great for him and this team!!#BEARDOWN #DLINEMENRULE
Leonard Floyd. I want to see if he can show some growth from a promising rookie year (and avoid concussions)— Brad (@Graba15) July 6, 2017
Victor Cruz in the slot really hope he does have something to prove an uses bears as his option to show he ain't done yet.— GEORGE TACK (@tack_george) July 6, 2017
Shaheen, he will dominate from day 1 (at least I hope so).— Martin Bengtsson (@skuggromantik) July 6, 2017
Kevin White... as in 2015 and 2016— Felix Schemenz (@FelixSchemenz) July 6, 2017
who's our kicker? I'll take that guy, I guess— Bathtub Vodka (@BathtubVodka) July 6, 2017
That qb Guy rabble rabble— Depressed & Sad Joe (@Chiguy8506) July 7, 2017
Charles Leno Jr https://t.co/wdMA5uKluC— Jennifer Roth (@jennifermroth_) July 7, 2017