Charles Leno Jr.

Bears Week 4 grades: Mike Glennon, John Fox fall flat in Green Bay

Bears Week 4 grades: Mike Glennon, John Fox fall flat in Green Bay

QUARTERBACKS: F

Mike Glennon lost two fumbles and threw an interception in the first half, then threw another interception in the third quarter. This was another horrendous game for the Bears’ starting quarterback. Teams don’t go into Green Bay — or anywhere, really — and win when their quarterback turns the ball over four times and doesn’t make enough plays to overcome those mistakes. Glennon now has eight turnovers to his name through four games.

RUNNING BACKS: D

Jordan Howard was bottled up for 53 yards on 18 carries, with 21 of those yards coming in garbage time during the fourth quarter. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t force a missed tackle on any of his 18 runs, and also dropped a screen pass. Tarik Cohen (six carries, 24 yards, four receptions 24 yards) wasn’t able to get loose but did deliver a nice block in pass protection on Glennon’s touchdown to Kendall Wright. Unfortunately for the Bears’ “Thunder” and “Lightning” Green Bay did what plenty of opposing defenses will do going forward: The Packers put eight or more defenders in the box on 12 of Howard’s 18 runs Thursday night.

WIDE RECEIVERS: D

Wright caught all four of his targets and looked like a productive pass-catcher a week after not being targeted against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The rest of his teammates struggled, though — like Josh Bellamy being unable to bring in a relatively well-thrown Glennon deep ball late in the first quarter. On Glennon’s first interception, he threw the ball too quick, so Markus Wheaton wasn’t able to get the depth in his route that he wanted.

TIGHT ENDS: D

Zach Miller had two productive catches totaling 45 yards, but this group didn’t do enough in the run blocking game. Adam Shaheen didn’t play enough, and when he did, he wasn’t able to block Ahmad Brooks on a snap, who dropped Howard for a four-yard loss that preceded Glennon’s first fumble. Dion Sims had one catch for eight yards and hasn’t been much of a factor in the passing game this year.

OFFENSIVE LINE: D+

A Kyle Long false start put the Bears behind the chains right before Glennon threw his first interception. Josh Sitton (holding) and Charles Leno (false start) were flagged in a succession on three plays in the second quarter that backed the Bears up from the Packers’ 37-yard line to the Bears’ 47. Cody Whitehair had another shaky snap before he and Glennon botched the one Green Bay recovered (for what it’s worth, Olin Kreutz said that was on the quarterback):

This was a struggle for an offensive line that finally had all five projected preseason starters, but was facing a Dom Capers defense that was going to sell out to stop the run and force the Bears to pass. In that sense, that the only sack Green Bay had was when Glennon held the ball too long on the first play of the game is a positive.

DEFENSIVE LINE: C-

Green Bay ran the ball on five of its first six plays, with Ty Montgomery, before he exited with a reported broken rib, quickly pushing the Packers into Bears territory. When the Packers did pass, a lot of the balls came out quick — except for that 58-yard heave to Jordy Nelson. But even if the pass-rushing opportunities were limited, this was a missed opportunity for a defensive line going against an offensive line missing its two starting tackles and playing guys out of position.

LINEBACKERS: C-

Leonard Floyd notched his first sack of the year and Pernell McPhee continued his solid play to open the season with a sack of his own, but this group (and the defense as a whole) didn’t record a hurry on Rodgers. According to Pro Football Focus’ numbers, Rodgers was under pressure only seven of his 28 drop backs. Danny Trevathan made 13 tackles but his vicious hit on Davante Adams may warrant a suspension, which would leave the Bears precariously thin at inside linebacker.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: D+

Nelson getting wide open for a touchdown in the second half was ugly, and the only positive play on the ball this group made was when Eddie Jackson dislodged the ball from Nelson’s hands on a deep third down throw in the first quarter. The Bears still don’t have an interception through four games.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

Connor Barth missed a 47-yard field goal wide right for the second consecutive week. More positively, Pat O’Donnell pinned the Packers inside their own 20-yard line on all three of his punts, and perhaps not coincidentally, Green Bay punted on all three of those possessions.

COACHING: F

John Fox said it himself: “It starts at the top. We got out-coached.” The Bears were sloppy, and their eight penalties followed games in which they were flagged 10 times (Pittsburgh) and eight times (Tampa Bay). Coaching on a short week isn’t ideal, but the Packers had to deal with the same timeframe (though they committed seven penalties, too).

On another topic — why was Howard, shoulder injury and all, still in the game down 28 in the fourth quarter? It was a white flag drive lasting 8:53 with the team down by 28. At that point, protecting the team’s best offensive player would’ve seemed to be important, especially if that was the reasoning for not playing Mitchell Trubisky.

“If you watch the game, I don’t think it was an ideal time to put him in,” Fox said.

For Kyle Long, the message sent by Charles Leno's extension was well received

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USA TODAY

For Kyle Long, the message sent by Charles Leno's extension was well received

The Bears signed left tackle Charles Leno to a four-year contract extension two weeks ago, but this week was the first time we heard from general manager Ryan Pace since the deal was signed. 

A part of Pace’s explanation as to why the Bears made the move to sign Leno before he played a snap in 2017 is interesting: 

“The locker room’s paying attention to who we’re rewarding,” Pace said. “And I think sending that message with Charles Leno is a good message.”

Leno is one of the few holdovers left from the Phil Emery era, a former seventh-round draft pick whose steady improvement and work ethic gained the respect of his teammates. Leno played every single offensive snap the Bears took in 2016, checking off an important box for coach John Fox: dependability. Leno also said all the right things about his future prior to signing his extension. 

Count Kyle Long as one of the players for whom that message was well received. 

“I’m so happy for Charles,” Long said. “He works so freaking hard. He makes me feel less than what I see, with all the work that he does. He’s poured himself into this game. You’ve seen him do that since the first day he got here. Couldn’t be happier for Charles Leno.”

The Bears believe they have their left tackle of the future in Leno, a 25-year-old whose arrow is pointing up. The Bears wouldn’t have guaranteed him over $20 million if they weren’t confident in his continued growth. 

“(He was) really locked into all his reps and everything he’s doing on the field and behind the scenes, it feels good,” Pace said. “We’ve talked about this, the best form of free agency is extending your own guys because you know the most about them. Charles is a great example of that. He does things the right way, he’s a true pro and I think he’s got better and better and he’s going to continue to ascend.”

What Charles Leno's contract extension means for future of the Bears' offense

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USA Today Sports Images

What Charles Leno's contract extension means for future of the Bears' offense

The Bears have always liked Charles Leno Jr., but the question was if they liked him enough to keep the left tackle around beyond the 2017 season.

The answer to that question came Wednesday, with the Bears signing Leno to a four-year contract extension. The Chicago Tribune and NFL Network reported the deal is worth $38 million contract with $21.5 million of that total guaranteed. 

For some context on Leno’s deal, here’s what the five highest-paid left tackles signed for this spring, according to Spotrac.com: 

Riley Reiff: 5 years, $58,750,000 ($26.3 million guaranteed)
Matt Kalil: 5 years, $55,500,000 ($31 million guaranteed)
Russell Okung: 4 years, $53,000,000 ($25 million guaranteed)
Andrew Whitworth: 3 years, $33,750,000 ($15 million guaranteed)
Kelvin Beachum: 3 years, $24 million ($12 million guaranteed)

In Leno, the Bears believe they have a reliable left tackle — he played every single offensive snap in 2016 — who can protect Mitch Trubisky’s blind side when 2017’s No. 2 pick eventually takes over as the team’s starting quarterback. If he were to become a free agent, the Bears would’ve risked losing him and then having to find a replacement via free agency or the draft. 

Having that long-term consistency for Trubisky is a plus, and extending Leno is a safer option than navigating a competitive market or plugging in a rookie, even a highly-drafted one. And in signing him, it takes a potential need for a left tackle off next year's draft board, freeing up that first-round pick to find the best available player and/or fill a long-term need at another position (cornerback and wide receiver are the most obvious). 

The 6-foot-3, 306 pound Leno still has room to improve, but is only 25 and talked earlier in camp of how confident he is in his abilities. 

“Some people may look at offensive line and be like, they have to be 6-foot-6, they gotta be 360 pounds — whatever they want to say about offensive linemen,” Leno said. “No, offensive linemen, especially in today’s NFL, and to be a left tackle, you gotta move your feet. And I can do that very well. (It’s) just technique. When you go out there, be comfortable in the sets that you have in practice, the sets that you have before the games, whatever it may be, just take those sets and carry them over to the games.”

Said coach John Fox earlier this month: "I think he’s played good solid football. I think as a football team we all have to get better. But he’s been a dependable guy. He’s pretty reliable and dependable. But we all have room for improvement so I think he’d tell you the same thing.”

Leno is one of the few remaining holdovers from the Phil Emery regime, and while many of the former general manager’s draft picks flopped, he’s carved out a nice place in the league for himself three years after being a seventh-round pick. 

“I never expected I would be in this situation, absolutely not,” Leno said in Bourbonnais. “I’m very blessed, I’m thankful for the opportunity that I’ve got into. But also, it’s a testament to the work I’ve been putting in for myself and I just don’t ever want that to stop. I don’t ever want the work ethic that I have to ever go down because I’ve got some money or because I’m in a contract year. I want to keep improving whether I have the money or not.”