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[Bills] Is there anything left to play for?

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  • [Bills] Is there anything left to play for?

    The Associated Press
    Drew Bledsoe watches from the sidelines Sunday night after being replaced by J.P. Losman the final two series against New England. Is it time for the 12-year veteran to take an early retirement? The Bills aren't mathematically out of the playoffs, but the season is realistically shot.
    [Day in Photos]

    The five W's
    WHO is starting to think about 2005? Bills fans should be because 2004 pretty much came to an end Sunday night in Foxboro. Mike Mularkey made reference to the Pittsburgh team he played on in 1989 that was 4-6 at one point in the season yet rallied to make the playoffs, so he's not going to give up. The rest of us can give up. This team is not making the playoffs.

    WHAT do we make of J.P. Losman's debut? Not much. The kid was terrible, but let's be fair. The game was hopelessly lost and the Patriots the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots were in a feeding frenzy. Still, two turnovers on five plays was not what Bills fans wanted to see from their QB of the future.

    WHERE was Drew Bledsoe looking when he threw that interception to Tedy Bruschi? He was trying to hit Lee Evans over the middle, but unless he has X-ray vision he couldn't have seen Evans because Bruschi was right in front of the rookie receiver. How many other 12th-year quarterbacks would have thrown that pass?

    WHEN is Mark Campbell going to re-surface? The Bills' starting tight end has gone three straight games without a pass reception. He has just 10 catches for 135 yards this season.

    WHY didn't the Bills try to make an early statement against the Pats? Last week on the opening series against the Jets, Mularkey went for a fourth-and-1 at the 12 and Willis McGahee scored a touchdown. Against New England the Bills had a fourth-and-5 at the Pats 35 on the opening possession. Too far for a field goal, too close for a punt. Why not go for the first down there? If they make it, maybe they go in and score and perhaps the game turns out different. Then again, maybe not.

    Sal Maiorana

    Leo Roth and Sal Maiorana
    Staff writers

    (November 16, 2004) Sal: It's ridiculous that we're asking this question in the middle of November about a team that clearly has talent, but when you're a team that can't win on the road, that's the plight the Bills face. Seven games to go, yet the season is basically shot. I don't think there's anything to play for except getting the team's young players ready for the future.

    Leo: I agree, although with seven games to go, there's still plenty of time to sell more beer, hot dogs and merchandise. I hear there's a No. 11 jersey clear-out sale this week.

    Sal: Didn't they already have one of those? Oh, my mistake, that was Rob Johnson's No. 11 jersey.

    Leo: Seriously, the Bills' goal these final weeks should be to get their Big Three of the Future J.P. Losman, Willis McGahee and Lee Evans on the field together as much as possible.

    Sal: I realize the Bills won't throw the towel in until they are mathematically eliminated, but this situation calls for a serious reality check rather than pie-in-the-sky playoff scenarios.

    Leo: Anything's possible, but with four of the final seven on the road, like you say, the Bills' odds of making the playoffs seem more astronomical than the Red Sox winning the World Series. This latest New England meltdown aside, this is a team that lost winnable games at Oakland and New York, and blew the opener at home against Jacksonville. That's why things are so dire. Not only didn't the Bills overachieve by scoring an upset over New England, they underachieved by losing to teams they should've beaten.

    Sal: It's not unusual for a team to falter in the first year of a coaching switch. New coaches working with new players can be a tricky dynamic. But coach Mike Mularkey said from Day 1 he didn't walk into a bad situation here. This team isn't devoid of talent. It was expected to compete for a divisional title. But you nailed it. They have underachieved all season.

    Leo: Expecting the Bills to win right away under Mularkey with a roster that GM Tom Donahoe has been chiseling at for four years wasn't unrealistic. Look what Jim Mora Jr. is doing with the Atlanta Falcons. But this team has a serious disconnect. I've never been in a Bills locker room that seems to lack chemistry like this one. The players talk a good game, but they rarely deliver, particularly Drew Bledsoe.

    Sal: I don't know about you, but I gave the Bills no chance of winning in Foxboro against the defending Super Bowl champs. Their two-game winning streak pumped a little life into the fan base, but in reality, they weren't going to beat the Patriots on the road. And that's fine. What's disturbing was the effort. This was the Bills' season on the line, and they couldn't have played worse. It was a debacle.

    Leo: What, you weren't impressed with getting manhandled in the trenches to the tune of 428 yards to 125? I'll admit that I took a sip of the Kool-Aid and felt that if McGahee got on track Buffalo had a shot at the upset. I am excited about what he can do for this club in the future. But the Patriots showed that on the road, if you stop the Bills' running game and make them a one-dimensional team by putting the ball in Drew's hands to win it, it's a recipe for disaster. We've seen it now 14 of the last 16 road games. It's not like anybody is jumping to conclusions here. As soon as Bledsoe is benched, this team can start moving forward.

    Sal: We've seen Bledsoe play some brutal games, but this one ranks at the very bottom. The only thing lower than Bledsoe's QB rating of 14.3 was Maurice Clarett's SAT score. The Bills have to turn the page on the Bledsoe Era because with a 3-6 record, the playoffs are out of the question now. The time has come to give the ball to Losman and let him take his baby steps in games that don't mean much the rest of the way.

    Leo: One of the reasons Donahoe traded for Bledsoe was reasoning that while the Patriots were familiar with Drew, he was also familiar with the Patriots, providing them with some advantages against the team Buffalo must play twice a season and needs to beat to have any shot at getting anywhere. Instead, Bledsoe helped New England with his alarmingly predictable tendencies. Even staunch supporters of Bledsoe in the New England media turned on him after Sunday's performance. It's sad seeing a punch-drunk ex-heavyweight think he still has it. It's time Mularkey and Donahoe faced facts. Not starting Losman would be an insult to the fans.

    Sal: I'll be curious to see if Mularkey has the guts to send his proud 12-year veteran into an earlier-than-anticipated retirement.

    Leo: If Mularkey is worried about going 0-7 down the stretch with Losman, he's worrying needlessly. Bledsoe is costing him games now. He doesn't represent his team's best chance to win, Losman does. Never mind how green Losman is.

    Sal: Mularkey needs to check out his old team, the Steelers, and what they're doing with Ben Roethlisberger. In today's NFL you have to play your young players, quarterbacks included. There's a reason why Buffalo picked Losman in the first round. Now show your faith in him.

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    [Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now
    by DJRamFan
    Mularkey won't give up on veteran despite loss to Pats


    Buffalo Bills coach Mike Mularkey still hasn't given up on his team's chances of making the playoffs this season, which explains why he isn't quite ready to begin the J.P. Losman Era any time soon. Drew Bledsoe will be the starting quarterback Sunday afternoon against the St. Louis Rams.
    After that, we'll see.

    Mularkey's reasoning Monday after the Bills' embarrassing 29-6 defeat to the New England was built more on mathematics than reality. The Bills are 3-6 with seven games remaining, including a five-game stretch that includes four road games. Ten teams in the AFC have a better record than Buffalo, and only Miami's is worse.

    Technically, the Bills can make the playoffs. Realistically, their chances are slim at best.

    "It's still too early to rule out where we're going from this point in the season," Mularkey said after meeting with his players. "There are seven games left. We're not out of it. Drew has proven in three (wins) of four (games) before this game that he was a big reason why. We'll start with Drew this week."

    Problems that had plagued Bledsoe for two-plus seasons resumed Sunday against the Patriots in what could have been the worst game of his career. He completed just eight of 17 passes for 76 yards, had three interceptions and failed to lead the Bills' offense into the red zone, let alone the end zone. His 14.3 passer rating was the lowest for any game in his 12-year career.

    "I think he just threw some poor balls," Mularkey said. "We had some guys open, and then we didn't and forced some things in there. Against that team, you can't afford to do that."

    Losman came off the bench cold as the third quarterback and wasn't much better in two series against the Pats. The Bills' first-round pick in April was sacked and fumbled the ball away on his first NFL drive and threw an easy interception on his second. He didn't exactly inspire thoughts he was the next Ben Roethlisberger, the rookie quarterback who has led the Pittsburgh Steelers to seven straight wins.

    But could Losman be a better option than Bledsoe?

    Mularkey said he merely wanted to take a peek at Losman knowing Sunday's game was basically decided, not kick-start a quarterback controversy. Mularkey wouldn't even say whether Losman, who is still not fully recovered from a broken leg, would be promoted to backup and therefore get more snaps in practice.

    "It was really just a matter of giving him some time," Mularkey said. "It was purely exposure. I don't think we put him in there to win the game. It would have been a tough comeback based on the number of scores we needed. It wasn't to start a controversial thing. It was to get a...
    -11-16-2004, 08:57 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bills] FOXBORO FLOP
    by DJRamFan
    Bills can't get untracked in lopsided loss to Pats

    News Sports Reporter

    Associated Press
    Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe gets drilled by New England's Rosevelt Colvin after an 8-yard run in the first quarter.

    James P. McCoy/Buffalo News
    Bills running back Willis McGahee is gang-tackled by New England defenders. McGahee finished with 37 yards rushing.

    FOXBORO, Mass. - Gillette Stadium lived up to its reputation as a House of Horrors for Drew Bledsoe and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.
    The Bills received a drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots that can be summed up in one word: embarrassing.

    The 29-6 result was every bit as ugly, if not as lopsided, as the Bills' 31-0 loss in last year's regular-season finale.

    The Bills were outgained, 428-125, and New England held a time-of-possession edge of 41:22 to 18:38.

    Bledsoe suffered indignity upon indignity against his former team.

    His passer rating of 14.3 was the lowest of his career. One of his three interceptions went to the Patriots' "disaster" cornerback, Troy Brown, the receiver who spent nine years catching passes from Bledsoe. And Bledsoe was yanked from the game late in the fourth quarter in favor of rookie J.P. Losman.

    "Well, there is not much really to say on tonight - we just got beat," Bledsoe said. "They went out and played like the world champs. They played very well and we didn't play well enough against them."

    With the Bills at 3-6, it seems only a matter of time before Losman takes over permanently for Bledsoe. For the record, coach Mike Mularkey dismissed the idea after the game, saying the time is not right for such a move and that he's not giving up on the Bills' playoff chances.

    So much for the mini-roll the Bills brought into the game. The Patriots jumped to a 20-0 halftime lead. They had 273 yards by halftime - 5 more than the Bills had been allowing per game for the season.

    The Bills' only points came on a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown by rookie Jonathan Smith. It came late in the third quarter.

    "We did not play well enough to win tonight, especially against a team that does not make mistakes," Mularkey said. "I felt good going into the game. I felt good after the week. I felt good after talking to them this morning. And I wish I hand an answer but I don't."

    "I think it killed everything we've been trying to establish," said a frustrated Eric Moulds of the momentum the Bills carried into the game. "We fell back today."

    The Bills' offense managed only eight first downs.

    The string of 100-yard rushing games by Bills back Willis McGahee came to a stop. McGahee...
    -11-16-2004, 08:58 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bills] The Bills' future is now and starts with Losman
    by DJRamFan
    Sal Maiorana
    Democrat and Chronicle columnist

    (November 16, 2004) FOXBORO, Mass. I know I've seen enough. I'm pretty sure every clear-thinking Bills fan has seen enough. I wish Mike Mularkey would admit that he has seen enough.

    The Drew Bledsoe Era in Buffalo should be over. After about two years' worth of mostly sub-standard and sometimes hard to watch performances, it needs to be over.

    Unfortunately, the coach said Monday that it's not over. At least not yet.

    Mularkey said Bledsoe will be the starter Sunday when the Bills host St. Louis, his reason being that he's not ready to give up on the season with seven games remaining.

    With a 3-6 record it's going to be over very soon whether he sticks with Bledsoe or turns to J.P. Losman. So if Losman was healthy enough to make that cameo appearance in New England, it makes all the sense in the world to start him for the rest of the year and begin his developmental process now.

    Tom Coughlin's Giants are 5-4 and very much alive in the NFC playoff picture. But Coughlin has grown tired of the bumbling Kurt Warner so he announced Monday he's turning the reins over to rookie Eli Manning. I don't hear too many Giants fans grumbling.

    Sunday night at Gillette Stadium Bledsoe dipped to an almost unfathomable level of incompetence and an ESPN national television audience had the misfortune of sharing in the misery of Joe Average Bills fan.

    It should have been the proverbial last straw. Rarely has Bledsoe ever looked worse and his cartoonish 14.3 passer rating, the lowest of his career, only tells part of the story.

    The computer-nerd quarterback rating formula hinges largely on touchdown passes and interceptions and at times does not fairly portray how a quarterback played in a game.

    Make no mistake: This time it painted a picture Picasso would have been proud of, accurately capturing the essence of Bledsoe's ineptitude.

    He had no touchdowns and three interceptions while completing just 8 of 19 passes for 76 yards. Just as troublesome as the balls he threw to the Patriots were some of the balls he threw to his teammates: Too high, too low, too far in front, too far behind.

    "There were some errant throws," Mularkey offered, almost in a whisper, during his post-game news conference.

    Added wide receiver Eric Moulds: "I think he was pressing a lot. Anytime you have a ball skip or things like that happen, a quarterback is pressing trying to make a play. He's had some bad games here, so it could be one of those things where he wants to beat this team really bad and go out there and play well, and he's rushing his throws and not relaxing."

    Bledsoe looked lost. He looked completely...
    -11-16-2004, 08:53 AM
  • Nick
    Wilson says Bills are still huddling on starting QB
    by Nick
    Wilson says Bills are still huddling on starting QB
    Owner looks forward to seeing if Losman can make right decisions

    Leo Roth
    Staff writer

    (January 25, 2005) Watching the Pittsburgh Steelers advance to the brink of the Super Bowl with rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was encouraging to see for Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson.

    His team currently is pondering a switch in 2005 from veteran Drew Bledsoe to last year's first-round pick, J.P. Losman. Wilson made it clear on Monday that he's eager to see Losman play.

    "J.P., we've got a lot of faith in him," Wilson said by phone. "We think he's going to be a good quarterback, now time will tell."

    Only a short amount of time will tell what direction the Bills are headed at quarterback.

    "I don't know what we're going to do on the quarterback. That will sort itself out in the next few weeks," said Wilson, echoing comments made last week by president and general manager Tom Donahoe.

    If the Bills decide to hand the starting job to Losman, they would like Bledsoe back as his backup (they'd have to find one regardless) but not at his scheduled base salary of $3.3 million with a salary cap number that is double that. Bledsoe is due a $1.05 million roster bonus in March and it's believed the Bills have asked him to take a pay cut, or they could release him outright.

    Is Bledsoe receptive to a pay cut after renegotiating his deal just last year? Would he accept a backup role?

    "I can't guess today what people are going to do," Wilson said. "Drew's had a tremendous career. We'll see."

    The Bills are 23-25 with Bledsoe as their starter and it appears the team's top brass is moving toward the conclusion that it is time to turn to a younger quarterback who has far more upside. And they would rather make the decision soon so Losman can have seven months concentrating on the job and not a competition next summer with Bledsoe that would distract the team.

    Despite having the NFL's No. 2-ranked defense that led the league in takeaways and playing great special teams, Buffalo still finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs with Bledsoe.

    Losman, obtained in last year's draft after a trade with Dallas, represents Buffalo's first-round pick this year.

    "He's got a great arm, he's mobile, but will he make the right decisions?" Wilson said. "We've had a couple guys with great arms in the past, but along with that is his decision-making.

    "Our people ... they've seen J.P. in college and they like him very much. He's got everything, but there's a learning curve. He won't set the world on fire right away. Every QB goes through it except Roethlisberger."

    But if it could happen to Roethlisberger, who was 14-0 before...
    -01-25-2005, 02:12 PM
  • Nick
    Bledsoe remains Bills starter
    by Nick
    Bledsoe Still Starter --
    Mon Nov 15, 2004 --from

    AP reports QB Drew Bledsoe remains the starter for the Buffalo Bills. HC Mike Mularkey on Monday insisted that rookie QB J.P. Losman still needs plenty of work, considering the first-round draft pick missed almost two months recovering from a broken leg. The coach added that Bledsoe still provides the Bills' best chance to win. That said, Mularkey wasn't happy in assessing Bledsoe's performance in Buffalo's 29-6 loss at New England on Sunday. "I think he just threw some poor balls," Mularkey said. "He didn't play as well as he needed to for us to win." Bledsoe's long-term status as starter is up for debate now that the Bills (3-6), who host St. Louis on Sunday, have fallen out of the playoff picture.
    -11-16-2004, 08:43 AM