Around the AFC East:
Week 8 Midweek Report
By NFL Scout Staff
Slow starts haven't been a problem for the Bills this season. Sustaining momentum has been.
Buffalo has won all seven of its coin flips, elected to receive, and driven to scores on six of those opening possessions. They've outscored their opponents 40-7 in the first quarter.
The Bills, however, have been outscored 131-72 the rest of the way, including 37-16 in the fourth.
Of the six games they've scored on the opening possession, Buffalo has led at halftime in only three of them, and won all three.
Last Sunday's 38-17 loss at Oakland typified the Bills' season. They took the opening drive 82 yards in 14 plays and scored a touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Kelly Holcomb to Lee Evans. On their first defensive series, they sacked Raiders' quarterback Kerry Collins and forced a fumble they nearly recovered.
But it was all Raiders after that.
"When you look back at it now, watching the film, we did not win the line of scrimmage," coach Mike Mularkey said. "Early on, I felt we did. That's what's so disappointing. We started off with a good drive and we did control the line, I felt, and with our first defensive series, we go three and out with a sack and forced fumble. You'd like to see the guys feed off of that but we had a three-and-out on our next offensive series. We just did not consistently win the line of scrimmage."
--QB Kelly Holcomb hasn't officially been named the starter for this Sunday's showdown at AFC East rival New England, but a change is unlikely, even coming off last Sunday's 38-17 debacle in Oakland. Holcomb, who threw two TD passes and didn't have an interception against the Raiders, is still better equipped to handle the Patriots' pass rush and the pressure of playing a night road game than second-year pro J.P. Losman. But it would not be a surprise if Losman were to enter the game if Holcomb wasn't getting the job done.
--QB J.P. Losman, who lost his starting job to Kelly Holcomb two weeks ago, will remain the backup until further notice. Losman was 45 of 94 passes for 433 yards, 47.9 percent, one TD, two interceptions, 10 sacks and a 55.9 rating in his four starts.
--WR Lee Evans, who has 17 catches for 220 yards, caught his first TD of the year in Sunday's loss at Oakland. It was his first TD catch since scoring twice at San Francisco last December 26. Evans, who led NFL rookies with nine scoring receptions a year ago with Drew Bledsoe at the helm, is suffering from the quarterback switch in Buffalo and lack of a deep passing game.
--WR Eric Moulds, who has 28 catches for 238 yards, is averaging just 8.4 yards per reception. That's the lowest mark of his 10-year career. In 1998, when Moulds made his first Pro Bowl, he averaged 20.4 yards per catch. Doug Flutie was the quarterback.
--WR Josh Reed, who was nearly a training camp cut, has been Buffalo's most reliable receiver with 17 catches for 176 yards and a TD. He has already passed his receiving totals from a year ago (16 catches, 153 yards, 0 TDs). He figures to remain Buffalo's top slot receiver until rookie Roscoe Parrish gets up to speed.
--RB Willis McGahee had his streak of games with at least one run of 10 yards or more snapped at 19 by the Oakland Raiders. McGahee's longest run was 9 yards as he finished with 50 yards on 16 attempts.
--RB Shaud Williams is getting plenty of spot duty work behind Willis McGahee, totaling 107 yards on 22 rushes and 46 yards on eight receptions.
--TE Mark Campbell has 10 catches for 74 yards this season. Coming off ACL surgery, he hasn't missed a start but remains too much of an afterthought in Buffalo's passing attack.
--CB/KR Terrence McGee banged up both legs in last Sunday's loss at Oakland, but his joints are fine and other than being sore, should be fine for this week's game at New England. McGee is averaging 34.3 yards on 18 kickoff returns, on pace for a club record.
--PK Rian Lindell has converted 14 of 15 field goals so far. With 113 career field goals, he's 83rd on the NFL's all-time list behind Mick Luckhurst (115) and Efren Herrera (116).
--DE Aaron Schobel has 37.5 sacks for his Bills career after notching one against the Raiders. That puts him sixth on Buffalo's all-time list. He passed Sherman White (37) last week.
--FS Troy Vincent came up with his second fumble recovery in Sunday's loss at Oakland, giving him two on the year. That matches a personal single-season high. He had two with the Eagles in 2000.
Miami (2-4) was hoping Williams would provide the offense a boost after returning from a four-game drug suspension. But not only has he gained only 7 yards on 11 carries, the use of Williams seemingly has taken away from Ronnie Brown's effectiveness.
Brown had a 65-yard touchdown run in last Friday's 30-20 loss to Kansas City, but logged only seven more carries for 30 yards while Williams lost 1 on his six attempts.
"We made a couple big plays," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. "But the consistency down in and down out is not what it needs to be on either side of the ball."
Just as frustrating for the Dolphins is how the use of Williams and Brown at the same time has failed to yield positive results. The Dolphins have run 17 plays with Williams and Brown on the field together and gained just 53 yards.
"You can't get frustrated," Williams said. "You just got to address it and keep working on it."
--QB Gus Frerotte's struggles completing passes are being compounded by turnovers entering Sunday's game against New Orleans in Baton Rouge. Frerotte, who has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in four of the past five games, has committed six turnovers (four interceptions, two fumbles) in the past three contests.
--QB Sage Rosenfels could be getting a shot as a starter if Gus Frerotte's play doesn't improve starting with Sunday's game against New Orleans.
--RB Ronnie Brown continues to have an impressive rookie season, ripping off a 65-yard run for a touchdown as part of a 95-yard rushing effort in last Friday's 30-20 loss to Kansas City.
--RB Ricky Williams continues to struggle getting into a groove, losing 1 yard on six carries against Kansas City. Williams has 11 carries for 7 yards since coming off a four-game drug suspension.
--WR Marty Booker could be forced to miss his first game of the season Sunday against New Orleans because of a sprained ankle suffered against the Chiefs. Bryan Gilmore would likely start if Booker can't play.
--WR Wes Welker continued to make big plays for the Dolphins on offense and special teams against the Chiefs. Welker set up two Olindo Mare field goals with a 47-yard punt return and a 35-yard third-down catch.
--TE Randy McMichael continues to struggle making an impact in Miami's passing game. McMichael had just three catches for 29 yards against Kansas City and now has eight grabs in the past four games, which are six less than he had in Miami's first two contests.
--K Olindo Mare has now made six field goals in a row after successful attempts of 33 and 23 yards against Kansas City. Mare also had his ninth touchback of the season.
--FS Yeremiah Bell has taken the team lead in special teams tackles with eight. Bell also is serving as Miami's sixth defensive back in their dime defensive package.
--SS Norman LeJeune, who played under Dolphins coach Nick Saban at Louisiana State, was signed Monday to take the roster spot of Tebucky Jones (injured reserve/pectoral).
--FB Heath Evans was waived despite having two starts and receiving extensive playing time in Miami's other four games. Ex-Dallas starter Darian Barnes, who is considered a better blocker, was signed to take his place.
--FB Darian Barnes was signed to take the roster spot of Heath Evans, who was waived despite having two starts and receiving extensive playing time in Miami's other four games. Barnes started 10 games last season for Dallas but was released during the preseason.
While an MRI revealed quarterback Vinny Testaverde has only a strained calf, his health may not be the determining factor in whether he starts for the Jets following this week's bye.
Testaverde, who did not go through training camp with anyone after being released by Dallas after 2004, has completed 36-of-63 passes for a 57.1 completion percentage and 464 yards. But Testaverde has yet to throw a touchdown and remains mistake prone, throwing an interception -- his fourth of the season -- and fumbling three times Monday.
The Jets are averaging just 13.1 points per season and 15 in three games under Testaverde. Their offense is ranked 29th in the league with only 242.7 yards per game.
"I'm not trying to start a quarterback controversy and say who the quarterback is. Just right now, we'll see where Vinny is at with his injury and we'll see what we're going to do," coach Herman Edwards said. "Anything is possible, but I'm not saying we're switching, I'm not saying that.
Brooks Bollinger looked overwhelmed making his first NFL start in Week 4 against Baltimore and was ineffective trying to get the ball to the wide receivers. But he looked good entering in relief Monday night, going 12-of-20 for 94 yards. He also led the Jets on a 62-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that ended at the Falcons 11 when Bollinger's short pass on 4th-and-1 to Martin was batted away.
"We have all this week to talk about what we're going to do offensively and defensively and I see some things that we've got to correct and that's probably the most important thing," Edwards said. "We've got to correct some things that are correctable, and that will help us, give us a better chance to win."
--QB Vinny Testaverde had an MRI Tuesday, revealing a strained right calf muscle. The Jets believe he'll be ready to play after the bye week. Only the Jets could conceivable sit the struggling Testaverde against the Chargers next game for Brooks Bollinger.
--LB Eric Barton is lost for the season with a torn left biceps muscle. The leading tackler on the Jets last season, Barton had already missed three games with a high ankle sprain and suffered the injury on his first play back Monday night. Mark Brown will continue starting in his place.
--WR Laveranues Coles suffered a bruised left shoulder against the Falcons but x-rays were negative and he is expected to play against the Chargers in two weeks.
--QB Jay Fiedler is not expected to throw for a few weeks and may take longer than expected to come back. There had been speculation that Fiedler could return from an injured rotator cuff in the next month but might not return for six weeks.
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