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.

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggains and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky? 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Laurence Holmes (670 The Score) and Phil Rogers (MLB.com) join Kap on the panel.

The crew discusses Bobby Portis’ suspension, Edzo’s return to the booth and the Bears' chances against the Panthers. 

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: