Ex-Bears Pro Bowler Brutally Shades Team’s Current Situation

Charles Leno Jr. Bears shade

Getty Former Bears starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr. was asked about Chicago's current offensive line issues.

If hindsight really is 20/20, the Chicago Bears have to be kicking themselves for releasing former left tackle Charles Leno Jr.

A seventh-round draft pick for the Bears in 2014, Leno became the team’s starting left tackle in 2015 and he started all 16 games in each of the six following seasons, making the Pro Bowl once in that span. All in all, he started 94 games for Chicago over his seven years there, but he was released in May after the team drafted rookie Teven Jenkins in the second round.

Leno’s durability is already missed, as Chicago’s offensive line has looked beyond dreadful in the preseason. Decimated by injuries, the Bears’ o-line has allowed five sacks over the last two preseason games (they didn’t allow any in their first preseason win over the Miami Dolphins) and 15 QB hits (all of which also occurred in the team’s final two preseason games).

Now a member of the Washington Football Team, Leno was interviewed on the sidelines during Washington’s August 28 preseason contest against the Baltimore Ravens, and when he was asked about his former team’s recent struggles on the line, his response was brutal — yet completely understandable.

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Leno on Bears’ O-Line Issues: ‘Not My Problem’

The plan after Chicago released Leno was for Jenkins to start at left tackle, but that didn’t work out. Instead, the rookie second-round pick had back surgery that will keep him out the bulk of the upcoming season — if not the entire thing. Now, the Bears have a beyond concerning offensive line that has been porous and unable to assist the running game in any way.

Starters Germain Ifedi and James Daniels missed much of training camp and the preseason with injuries, new veteran free agent Jason Peters has not played a full game in almost a year and swing tackle Elijah Wilkinson has resembled a turnstile more than a tackle at times. Center Sam Mustipher has shown promise, but he has yet to start a full season as the team’s starting center. Between inexperience and injuries, the Bears have been hurting in more ways than one.

According to Kevin Patra of NFL.com, when he was asked about the Bears’ current o-line issues in an interview with Mike Silver on the sidelines during Washington’s final preseason game, Leno gave a response that was equally brutal and just: “Not my problem,” he said with a shrug.

Silver then retweeted Patra and confirmed Leno’s perceived apathy:

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Leno Happy He Landed With HC Ron Rivera

For his part, Leno is loving life with his new team, and he had glowing things to say about his new head coach, Ron Rivera.

“The one person there that really made me feel welcome — I mean, clearly everybody in that organization’s great — but Coach Ron. Coach Ron Rivera. He’s a different man,” Leno said in May, per USA TODAY. “He doesn’t only talk about football. He’s deeper than that,” Leno said. “He’s a man that actually understands life. Just talking to him about life really just made me understand, like, you know what, this is exactly the place I want to go.”

At the end of the day, the Bears chose to keep a situational player like veteran tight end Jimmy Graham, who is carrying a cap hit of $10 million this year, around instead of Leno, who as a post-June 1 cut, saved the Bears $9 million. Chicago also let Leno walk knowing Jenkins had back issues, which might be the most head-scratching aspect of this entire thing. Regardless, the Bears have made their bed, and now they have to lie in it.

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