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[Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now

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  • [Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now

    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 quarterback experience."

    Losman was not available for comment Monday. Bledsoe was the only offensive starter who walked into the locker room while it was open to the media. Several others slipped out of the Bills' practice facility long before the locker room opened.

    Bledsoe did not conduct a formal interview but acknowledged that he knew criticism directed toward him would intensify with Losman on his heels. The same thing happened during the 2001 season in New England, when Bledsoe suffered an injury and the Pats turned to Tom Brady, clearing the way for Bledsoe's departure.

    "It's not my first rodeo," Bledsoe said before walking out the door.

    Bledsoe's future with the Bills - and perhaps in the NFL - could be in jeopardy after this season. He signed a three-year contract extension in the spring that included a $6.5 million signing bonus and allowed the Bills to save $4.18 million against the salary cap. He would cost the Bills some $4.33 million against the cap if the Bills released him after the season and $6.51 million if he returned.

    Bledsoe has not suggested he would retire, but it's been widely assumed he would rather consider that option than accept a backup role with the Bills or any other team. He's financially set for life. He has been in steep decline since early last season, when the Bills opened with blowout victories over the Patriots and Jacksonville.

    The Bills are 7-16 in the 23 games since their 2-0 start in 2003. Bledsoe has not thrown for more than 300 yards during that span, but he has thrown for less than 100 yards four times over the same period. He had thrown for less than 100 yards only three times in his first 142 games, including twice during his rookie year in New England.

    Bledsoe has thrown for less than 200 yards 15 times during the same stretch, in which he had 17 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions. The Bills are 1-10 on the road during that period, and he averaged just 158 yards passing. The Bills averaged just 215 yards of offense in the 10 road losses.

    Another defeat could signal the end for Bledsoe in Buffalo. At some point, Mularkey must consider whether the Bills' long-term benefits of developing Losman outweigh possible short-term success of staying with Bledsoe.

    "I haven't wrestled with it yet because I don't think we're at that point yet," Mularkey said. "I've been in this situation. I've been 4-6 and made the playoffs before (with the Steelers in 1989). I will never, not until it's final that we're in that position. I think we're still shooting for the stars and nothing less."

    e-mail: [email protected]

  • #2
    Re: [Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now

    It's only a matter of time before some of these older veterans who really don't move that well on their feet are phased out.


    • #3
      Re: [Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now

      Let's hope it starts this week.


      • #4
        Re: [Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now

        Originally posted by txramsfan
        Let's hope it starts this week.
        I agree...Bledsoe can meet the bench anytime now...we would all feel better.


        • #5
          Re: [Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now

          I loved Losman's INT in the last game. A few gifts like that and this Sunday's game will be a blow out.


          • #6
            Re: [Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now

            Originally posted by ebenezer
            I agree...Bledsoe can meet the bench anytime now...we would all feel better.
            I could have swore you guys had to IR Losman earlier in the year. Apparently (as I've been so many times before) I'm wrong.
            The more things change, the more they stay the same.


            Related Topics


            • DJRamFan
              [Bills] Is there anything left to play for?
              by DJRamFan
              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...
              -11-16-2004, 07:52 AM
            • Nick
              Bills ready to march on without Bledsoe
              by Nick
              Bills ready to march on without Bledsoe
              Veteran unlikely to back up Losman
              By MARK GAUGHAN
              News Sports Reporter

              The Buffalo Bills are likely to part ways with quarterback Drew Bledsoe by the end of the month.

              It's a move that has been creeping toward reality since the team's season ended Jan. 2.

              The Bills think they need to give first-round draft choice J.P. Losman a full shot to win the starting quarterback job, according to several league sources.

              That appears certain to spell the end of Bledsoe's tenure in Buffalo because there is no way he is going to be interested in being the Bills' backup, according to two sources close to the veteran quarterback.

              Bledsoe, contacted at his Oregon home, declined to comment on the situation. He said he would respond at the appropriate time.

              Bledsoe, who turns 33 on Monday, ranks 10th in passing yards in NFL history. He believes he has plenty of good football left.

              But the Bills are not in a position to designate him the No. 1 quarterback entering the offseason because of their investment in Losman. The Bills took Losman with the 22nd overall pick in last April's draft. They gave up first-, second- and fifth-round picks in order to acquire Dallas' first-round pick to make the selection. Bledsoe would have to accept the fact that Losman will get more significant practice time and would be likely to win the job if he progresses as the team hopes.

              Those close to Bledsoe cannot see him sliding into a clipboard holding role.

              Losman already is in Buffalo for the offseason. He was the first player to report for offseason workouts Monday. (Organized offseason workouts don't begin for NFL teams until late March.)

              The release of Bledsoe would come before March 2, when the NFL's salary cap for 2005 takes effect. Bledsoe is scheduled to make $3.3 million base salary this year. He's also scheduled to get a $1.05 million bonus if he's on the roster in March. His total salary cap charge is $6.5 million.

              So the Bills would save $2.2 million in salary cap space by releasing Bledsoe. Bledsoe still would take up $4.3 million in space, which is the amount of amortized bonus money left on the Bills' books as a result of a bonus he got in May.

              Eric Moulds' contract renegotiation, coupled with Bledsoe's release, would put the Bills roughly $14 million under the projected salary cap for 2005, according to News estimates.

              The Bills would have to sign a veteran quarterback for insurance at the position. It's likely they would go after a moderately priced journeyman with experience. A high-profile starter would want a three- or four-year commitment from the Bills, and they're committed to Losman as their quarterback of the future.

              The Bills' failure to make the playoffs under...
              -02-13-2005, 05:31 PM
            • 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, 01:12 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, 07:43 AM
            • DJRamFan
              [Bills] FOXBORO FLOP
              by DJRamFan
              Bills can't get untracked in lopsided loss to Pats

              By MARK GAUGHAN
              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, 07:58 AM