Chicago Bears

Moon: Is Newton's character leadership material?

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Moon: Is Newton's character leadership material?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 1:40 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

And furthermore, on this Cam Newton thing

The backlash in some quarters against Nolan Nawrockis scathing appraisal of the Auburn quarterback is interesting, on a number of levels. By way of quick background, the Pro Football Weekly draft analyst bluntly questioned the quality of Newtons character as a leader as much as any football issue.

Attacking Nolan, as some Newton supporters have, misses the point.

To steal from Michael Douglas soliloquy in The American President (one of the great romantic comedies ever, period View from the Moon provides this brief movie review free of charge), being President is entirely about character.

So to a large extent is being quarterback. So whether Nolans take was spot-on or not, and hes not the only one whos voice these concerns, Newtons character is critical, all the more so because of the investment his prospective team is making in him.

Accuracy and all the rest are essential, but character is everything. Consider the different courses followed by the teams selecting quarterbacks in the 1999 draft, which saw five quarterbacks selected in the first 12 picks, the last being Cade McNown by the Bears at No. 12.

Im going to throw out McNown, Tim Couch (No. 1 overall) and Akili Smith (No.3). None of them possessed the minimum skill package to even belong, and McNown added to the problems by not offsetting those shortcomings with leadership.

The two that bear most interestingly on the Newton appraisal are Donovan McNabb (No. 2) and Daunte Culpepper (No. 11). Similar in so many ways: Culpepper has a career passer rating of 87.8 to McNabbs 85.7; Culpepper was accurate, with a career completion percentage of 63.0 to McNabbs 59.

But McNabb was a consummate leader and reached a Super Bowl and five NFC Championship games with far, far less talent than Culpepper had when he was throwing to Cris Carter and Randy Moss and handing off to Robert Smith. McNabb navigated difficult waters in Philadelphia; Culpepper couldnt navigate clear of the Love Boat incident.

A team can be a perennial championship challenger with a quarterback possessing leadership character. A team without that never will. And thats why the Newton character questions matter, particularly for a potential top-10 quarterback selection.By the way, Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com gives an intriguing preview of an HBO look tonight at Auburns issues with paying players. It doesnt sound like it will do Newton character-backers any favors.

Tackling a problem

Long-time buddy Tom Kowalski covering the Detroit Lions over at mlive.com lays out the case for the Lions taking a tackle at No. 13 in the draft, and Tom also looks at why the bundle of solid tackle prospects may work against a team like Detroit that might want to trade down.

The question here is whether that situation helps or hurts the Bears, back at No. 29 and looking hard at offensive linemen. But in the Bears favor arguably is that they are as interested in adding a starter at guard or possibly even center. So while you can never be too rich, too thin or have too many tackles, the draft once it hits No. 13 and Detroit, where the run on offensive linemen may be expected to begin will get very interesting in a hurry.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

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AP

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

It's been a while since Devin Hester electrified the city of Chicago with his touchdown returns, but we got flashbacks of that Saturday night.

Deonte Thompson took a page out of the book of arguably the best returner in NFL history by returning a 109-yard missed field goal to the house as the first half expired during the Bears' second preseason game in Arizona.

It gave the Bears a 17-7 lead, and even had John Fox going crazy on the sideline:

Deonte Thompson, you are ridiculous?

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

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USA Today Sports Images

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

1. QB Mike Glennon

The Bears’ first team offense as a whole could be included under this subhead, whether it’s the offensive line creating holes for a running back (Jordan Howard won't play with a minor corneal abrasion) or the receivers creating more separation to get open. But the onus is on Glennon to be better than he was Thursday night and prove that 0.0 quarterback rating was the product of a small sample size and not a sign of more serious issues. On the other side of things, a bad game from Glennon only would lead to further questions about his ability to succeed as the Bears’ starting quarterback. 

“I mean, (this game is) bigger than the first but not as big as the third,” Glennon said. “I don’t really know how else to say it. Everything gets more amplified Week 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and then ultimately the season opener. Obviously I want to go out and play well but I don’t want to make too big a deal and put too much pressure on a preseason game.” 

2. WR Kevin White

Cameron Meredith can do a lot to help Glennon’s case, but the Bears have a good idea of what they have in the third-year receiver who’s been one of the more steady performers during training camp. Kevin White is in a different position, having not been targeted at all against the Denver Broncos and still needing to prove plenty going into his third year in the NFL. White’s growth this year may be slow, but he needs to show some signs of that growth during preseason games to build up some confidence for Sept. 10. 

“Anytime you go through some injuries, there’s a whole mental game that plays a part of it,” fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz (more on him in a bit) said. “Just talking to him – I think he’s over it. He understands those things are behind him. His confidence is back in his body with the things that he can do. You’re starting to see that out there on the football field. He’s really hitting another gear, catching these balls, going deep down the field and putting pressure on these defensive backs.”

3. WR Victor Cruz

It was a little jarring to see Cruz, a Super Bowl-winning former Pro Bowler, playing until the final snap of Thursday’s game — even if that had something to do with the Bears not having Daniel Braverman available and losing Rueben Randle and Joshua Bellamy to injuries during the game. But Cruz hasn’t seemed to significantly push Kendall Wright for the No. 1 slot receiver job over the last few weeks, and could find himself on the roster bubble by the end of the month. A good showing Saturday night could provide a nice boost to his chance of avoiding that bubble.  

“I've been impressed with him,” Fox said before the Bears’ first preseason game. “He's got a great feel for the game. Sometimes it might not be just how fast they are physically but how fast they play, and he seems to be that type of guy. He's still got plenty of gas in the tank and we're excited to have him.”

4. DE Jonathan Bullard

Bullard is the only player on this list who flashed last Thursday, with an impressive tackle for a loss probably the Bears’ second-best defensive play of the day behind Leonard Floyd’s first-play-of-the-game sack. He’s had a solid camp, too, showing some promising signs after struggling to show much of anything a year ago. For Bullard, Saturday night will be about keeping his arrow pointing up, perhaps to the point that he could start at defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks in Week 1. 

“He’s definitely stronger, faster,” Hicks said. “He was already explosive, right? He has picked up the game to a point where he can play within the scheme now and see things come and be able to predict the play in order to get a step on the guard or the tackle, whoever he’s playing against. Just the things that come with getting more reps.”

5. CB Kyle Fuller

No player may have a better opportunity Saturday night than Fuller, who should be in line to take first-team reps with Bryce Callahan out and Prince Amukamara missing practices this week with a strained hamstring. What Fuller does with this opportunity could be a major deciding factor of whether or not he’s part of the Bears’ 53-man roster — this coaching staff and front office didn’t draft him, and his fifth-year option for 2018 was declined in the spring. 

“It’s a new year,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said earlier this month when asked about Fuller. “We start evaluating guys by what you’ve seen on the field at this point.”