Mularkey refuses to name QB starter

People can assume all they want that Kelly Holcomb will start at quarterback for the second week in a row over J.P. Losman when the Bills play host to the New York Jets Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Just don't expect coach Mike Mularkey to make anything official.

Mularkey is fully convinced that not naming a starter gives him a competitive edge, and he's bound and determined not to lose it.

"If it gives us a 2 percent of 100 percent advantage, I'll take the 2 percent," Mularkey said Wednesday. "We don't talk about what we game plan on and give that to our opponents to work on. Anytime I feel it can put us (ahead) -- even as minute as it may be -- if it's an advantage to us, we'll take it."

Mularkey started Holcomb over a struggling Losman last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins and was rewarded with a 20-14 victory. Holcomb, 20 of 26 on the day with one touchdown and no interceptions, led Buffalo on three consecutive scoring drives to open the game as the Bills snapped a three-game losing streak.

Although Mularkey is judging his quarterbacks game-by-game, it's extremely unlikely he'd bench Holcomb after a victory.

Last week, veteran wide receiver Eric Moulds confirmed to the media that Holcomb would be starting against the Dolphins, giving Miami three days notice. Mularkey is happy for any time he can buy.

"Assume whatever you want, if this is something we feel gives us a chance to win a football game, we'll do it," he said. "That's the edge. Is it a weekly thing? I don't know anything after Sunday what I'm going to do. I didn't last week and again I don't know this week. But I still feel like we have two different types of quarterbacks and it's an advantage not knowing which one's going to start."

Buffalo may have an inexperienced player who is mobile in Losman and an experienced player who isn't mobile in Holcomb, but they still operate just one offense. That's why Jets coach Herm Edwards didn't sound very concerned that Buffalo hasn't officially named its starting quarterback.

"Well for me, I'm a defensive guy so I never worried about it too much," he said. "You've got film on both guys and their offense is an offense with gifted receivers and an excellent runner. They're going to run their offense, that's what you kind of look at."

Last week, Edwards started 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde in a 14-12 victory over Tampa Bay after injuries felled Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler and Brooks Bollinger struggled. Edwards could've kept his choice at quarterback a secret -- Testaverde or Bollinger -- but didn't.

"Every coach has to do what's best for his team," he said. "Me? Choose the one you want and live with it."

It's believed Holcomb received all the repetitions with the first unit on Wednesday and will continue to do so the rest of the week.

"You feel more comfortable with every snap you get, every experience you get with these guys," Holcomb said before practice. "This was the first time I was able to play since training camp, when they were giving J.P. a lot of the reps, so I didn't get much time to play with Lee (Evans) and Eric (Moulds) and the starting offensive line. It was an experience for me playing with those guys. You do get into a comfort zone after you know what's going to happen, and it feels good."

No matter who starts, the Bills offense has to figure out a way to play as well in the second half as it has in the first.

So far, the Bills have scored 59 points in the first two quarters of games and just nine in the last two, with no touchdowns. Against Miami, 31 of Buffalo's 65 plays occurred on its first three possessions. But six of the team's last eight possessions ended with punts, another with a turnover.

"I really can't explain it," said tight end Mark Campbell of Buffalo's second-half woes. "I think in this last game, we had a good lead and we wanted to be smart with the ball. We didn't take as many risks as we could've."

Mularkey suggested that the time has come for him and coordinator Tom Clements to get a little more daring and not sit on leads, particularly small ones.

"I think we've got to make some big plays," Mularkey said. "Some of that is us calling the plays to let that happen. I think we've got to open it up a little bit. I think we need to quit worrying about some of the 'What ifs.' We tried to take a couple of shots (Sunday). We didn't get the ball off or we had to check it down immediately because we were getting pressure too quickly. But we've got to continue to try to take some shots and see if we can make the big plays."


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