Exhibition or otherwise, a shutout is fantastic. Food tastes better after a win like that. Several players let us exhale by playing well on such a diminutive offseason. Josh Freeman is getting rave reviews, the offensive line gave him all day to throw, and the defensive line got four and a half sacks. For the most part, the rookies played as expected or better.
A shutout is far from an indication of perfection. Several aspects of Friday's game were lackluster under a scrutinizing eye. There are players that need to demonstrate their ability early in order to secure a starting position, and some are going to be playing for a job.
1. Da'Quan Bowers - I keyed in on him for every snap that he was in the game. It was exciting to see him on the field and playing, however that's half the battle. Bowers needs to do what his college play promised he could, and that is mutilating quarterbacks. He looked slow and wasn't able to beat anyone around the corner. I got incredibly excited when I saw the LE get to the quarterback, but was shocked when it turned out to be Michael Bennett. At this point my thoughts are that Bowers is gaining confidence in his knee and adjusting to professional football. His practices have been very good overall, so my worry for him is considerably less than others.
2. Myron Lewis - This guy was all but absent in camp. I haven't read anything of him throughout offseason work outs, and that, at best, indicates he's performing decently. He's already lost ground to E.J. Biggers (who has pleasantly surpassed his draft status), and it's time for him to demonstrate progression. He'll be on the field tomorrow night, but the team needs him to let the fans know it. If Anthony Gaitor keeps playing out of his mind, it wouldn't surprise me if Lewis drops down to number 5 for a while with insipid play. Staying injury free would help give a fairer assessment of his play this year.
3. Mason Foster - He was quick to the ball against the Chiefs and looked more comfortable than I anticipated. New England is not a rushing team, so it will be especially interesting to see how Foster fares against the passes he's sure to see on first and second down. He can assuage our fears if he conveys an understanding of his coverage tomorrow while not biting on play action.
4. Kyle Moore - Coming off his first two sack game as a professional, Moore has got fans and coaches in high hopes for a turnaround. Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall were the August gamers that just blew in the regular season, and after seeing that just to become deflated, I'm still wary of Moore. What's uplifting is that he's been given new assignments from a new coach. If Moore can manage to play in the backfield in Ray Jay tomorrow night it will definitely aid his chances at acquiring a roster spot.
5. Too many pass-catchers - I saw Daniel Hardy, Michael Spurlock, and I want to say Kregg Lumpkin catching balls off of their chest. None of them dropped balls that were thrown well- however catching them off of their shoulder pads is a recipe for disaster and must be infuriating for Freeman. This is how balls get jarred loose for incomplete passes or interceptions. Never mind that ticks in the interception column only reflect poorly on the quarterback; they help the team lose. Both of which will have the "248" pound quarterback grabbing facemasks on the sideline.
Aside from Foster having the MLB spot, the other positions are very much a contest. Guys are going to be rusty for another couple of weeks- whoever shakes it off the fastest will stay in September.