Bears left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. is paid to protect Mitch Trubisky. In fact, he's one of the most important players on offense; if he fails at his job, Trubisky is doomed.
And that's why Leno's insight on the offense's struggles carries a lot of weight, even if it could be twisted as nothing more than a player coming to his quarterback's defense. Leno, better than anyone, knows how important it is for all 11 starters to do their job at a high level. It's not just about Trubisky for the offense to succeed.
Leno stepped up Tuesday at Halas Hall and put the team's woes on the offensive line.
"It's not all on him, we know that," Leno said. "We’re the ones up front protecting him, we’re the ones up front running the ball for David and Tarik, so we look at it like it’s on us. I’d rather put all that pressure on us than put it on the quarterback, you know what I’m saying? So, we just want to do our job better so we can make it easier for all those guys around us because it starts with us, regardless of the play."
Leno's play has been down this year compared to previous seasons when he established himself as one of the NFL's most underrated left tackles. He's on pace for the lowest Pro Football Focus grade of his career (53.5) and is coming off another subpar effort against the Eagles in Week 9 when he scored a 62.3. Compare that mark to his performance last season, when PFF gave him a year-long grade of 75.3.
"Mitch knows it’s gonna fall ultimately on the QBs shoulders when the offense doesn’t do well," Leno said. "What are other guys on offense telling him to keep his head up, because it’s a group unit, and if it’s a failure on Mitch, sometimes it’s a failure for the entire offense, right?"
While Trubisky certainly deserves a lion's share of the blame, the only way for a young quarterback to build confidence and momentum is for the guys around him to do their job well. Leno and the rest of the offense will have yet another chance to do that in Sunday's Week 10 game against Detroit at Soldier Field.