Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:
“Why does it seem like the Bears are always one change short to better the offensive line? They have improved their backups with experienced lineman and got Bobby Massie but why the heck don’t they get another tackle on the other side where Charles Leno is a career backup at best? Tell me where is the other tackle to complete the moves they made on the line? They have plenty of money and are well under the cap. So what’s the deal? — Paul B., Arlington Heights”
“The Bears believe Leno is much better than a career backup and they’re willing to give him an opportunity to prove it. I thought he was pretty solid in 13 starts last season and I don’t remember re-watching games last season and thinking, ‘this guy is totally out of place.’ It was quite the opposite. Did I miss something in evaluating him in 2015? The Bears had far bigger problems than their left tackle in a 6-10 season.”
Biggs didn’t miss anything. I would say that most people with eyes understood that Leno had a solid year.
Fans and members of the media who believe that left tackle is a priority because Leno isn’t good enough fall generally into three categories:
1. People who see what they expect to see.
Leno was a seventh round pick and people just assume that he won’t be up to the task of playing what is one of the more difficult positions on the field. So that’s what they assume is happening when they watch the games. I have little patience for fans like this and I’m guessing that Paul B. is one of them.
2. People who saw Leno play right tackle in the preseason last year and just assume that he can’t play on the left.
This is a completely false assumption. In fact, Leno seems to have been born to play on the left side. His athleticism seems to come out and shine when he plays against the more athletic pass rushers that he sees on that end of the offensive line. On the other hand, he wasn’t the kind of big, bruising player that is going to be as effective on the right.
You might also need to account for the fact that a light may have come on for Leno after the preseason causing him to simply play better once the real games started.
3. People who see a solid performance from Leno in 2015 but don’t trust him to continue in 2016.
This one, I understand. And for that reason I think the Bears are undoubtedly looking to bring in at least one other tackle that they think can compete for a spot, play reasonably well if Leno regresses or fails to progress, and act as a back up. And, of course, if they see someone in the draft that they think can upgrade the position, they may do that.
But short of this, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that Charles Leno is your left tackle in 2016 and fans are just going to have to deal with that reality.