What do the advanced stats say about Charles Leno and his 2019 season?
Charles Leno is a very divisive player amongst Chicago Bears fans. After signing a four-year extension, he is signed to the team through the 2022 season.
Some fans expect him to the starter throughout the duration of his contract while others would rather cut him now and save less than $3 million on the salary cap.
The fact is that he is likely somewhere in between, but going to the stats is always the best way to judge things. What do the advanced stats say about Charles Leno.
When looking at pressures allowed, which combines sacks, hits, and hurries, Leno allowed 40 in 2019 per PFF. That would have put him in a tie for 10th worst in the NFL amongst players who had over half of their teams snaps.
He is tied with Jawaan Taylor, a rookie as well as Sam Tevi and Mike Remmers, two journeymen tackles. He is not quite as bad as Nate Solder, who allowed 57 pressures in 2019.
This has been a consistent drop off for Leno. He allowed 32 pressures in 2018 and 24 in 2017. In 2017, he was one of the ten better lineman in the NFL.
Pass Block Efficiency
He had a 96.5 pass block efficiency rating, which ranked 35th in the NFL. He was tied with Taylor Decker of the Lions and Jesse Davis of the Dolphins. Ronnie Stanley led the NFL with a 99.3 pass block efficiency rating.
This also has been shown decline each year, going from 96.8 in 2018 and 97.5 in 2017. Leno was once above average as a pass blocker, but has creeped into below average over the past two years.
Below you can see one of his worst examples as a pass blocker. Michael Bennett is able to over-power Leno and drive him back into the quarterback.
Pass Block Win Rate
One thing that is worth noting is that a lot of hurries and sacks can come down to scheme and quarterback play. Trubisky holds onto the ball and takes sacks because of how long he holds onto the football more than your average quarterback.
This cannot be shown in hits and sacks, but can show in Pass Block Win Rate (PBWR). PBWR looks into how often a quarterback was hit or sacked within 2.5 seconds.
As you can see below, Leno wins more than he loses. However, he also gets double-team help more often than most tackles who win at the same rate.
Still, it is fair to say that while many will point to Leno for Trubisky getting sacked, Leno can point to Trubisky for him getting blamed for sacks as well.
Below, you can see Leno against Derek Barnett, he shoots out of his stance, and is able to dictate the route in which Barnett gets to the quarterback.
Again, you can see a successful block against Za’Darius Smith. He is best when shooting out of his stance and getting a hard first step. In the play above when he loses to Bennett it is an RPO, so Leno’s first step is forward. He plays light on his feet, but can lose with power.
The biggest issue with Leno may not be holding blocks for longer than 2.5 seconds. It is his penalties. He had 13 in 2019, which includes six holding calls and two illegal use of hands of calls.
He ranked fifth amongst tackles in penalties, only five behind Laremy Tunsil, the league leader. In 2018 Leno had just six tackles. In 2017 he had 13 as well.
Did the Bears success in 2018 have to do with a fluke year of Leno not getting called for holding?
When looking at directional success, the Bears had a 58% directional success rate when running off of the left tackle, and a 46% rate to the left outside. They had a 52% rate behind the left guard, and 48% straight up the middle. Compared to the right side, which had 40% success to right guard, 30% to right tackle, and 36% to the outside, the Bears were much more effective running to the side of Leno.
However, when Bobby Massie misses eight games, and Rashaad Coward is holding down the right side, it is not a surprise that they ran better to Leno.
According to PFF, Leno was about average as a run blocker. However, just like his pass blocking grades, he has dropped from year to year.
The tape pretty much backs this up. Below you can see an example of Leno struggling to get a push off of the football. He is supposed to get to the second level, but does not even land on his first block, and the play is blown up in the backfield because of him.
As mentioned, when his first step is forward, he can get over powered. That is where the decline in run grade is from. However, you can see in the play below that when he does get out and move, he is able to be a strong blocker. Below he leads a run for a touchdown.
Again, below you can see him pulling to the right side. This was a successful run, meaning that Leno was responsible for increasing the success rate to that side that was so low to begin with.
Leno is fairly athletic for his size. He is a fluid mover and when he is able to get a step, whether it be backward, or outward in pass sets, or forward when pulling, he is at an advantage. However, he loses with power often, which can create more pressures than average.
He also gets called for too many penalties, which can also come from being over powered.
The reality is that Leno is a slightly below average tackle currently. However, he is not the worst starter in the league, or in that territory.
The Bears do not have an option on the roster, and will not have the cap space to pay for anyone who can help better than him. They may be able to draft a future starter, and could save $6 million in 2021. However, to save less than $3 million, without having a viable starter on the roster is not going to happen.
The Bears would be better off playing to his strengths, and using him to pull more often, as well as playing to his strengths as a pass blocker.
This would include more screens, and chances where Leno is able to use his athleticism to his advantage.