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ENOUGH: LET LOSMAN START AT QB

Given an extra day to reflect, I've decided that Sunday night's debacle in Foxboro was actually good for the Bills. Look at it this way: If they had upset the Patriots, it would have stunted the team's development by perpetuating the myth that Drew Bledsoe is still capable of leading an NFL team to the playoffs.

Now, any outlandish notions of a playoff run will be shattered for good. It's ludicrous to suggest that the worst road team in the league, a team that hasn't won a significant road game in the Bledsoe era, could suddenly find itself and run off four straight road wins in a brutal five-week stretch.

They're 3-6 now. It doesn't matter how they got there, or how close they came in a couple of the losses. They are what they are -- an utter mediocrity, a team that front-runs in its own stadium but lacks the talent and heart to compete on the road. They have no shot. I'm told Wade Phillips has declared them out of the playoff race.

So they might as well end the Bledsoe charade once and for all. Make J.P. Losman the starting quarterback and begin the new era. If he was healthy enough to mop up that mess in Foxboro the other night, he's well enough to take his lumps on a full-time basis and get his legs under him. Start him at home against St. Louis and move forward.

Predictably, it sounds as if rookie coach Mike Mularkey intends to drag his feet on the QB issue, the same way he did on Willis McGahee and Travis Henry. Asked after the game if it was time to turn the page on the Bledsoe era, he balked.

"Well, I'd say it's too early to do that," Mularkey said, "too early to think about that. I've been in situations very similar to this, same amount of losses and made the playoffs in 1989. One game is not going to change our outlook. I know they still believe."

Oh, really? I don't care what miracles occurred when Mularkey was playing for the Steelers in 1989. This isn't a playoff team and everyone knows it. The players certainly didn't exude a sense of belief against the Super Bowl champs. Their coach didn't show much belief in his guys by punting from the Pats' 35 on the first possession.

Mularkey is clinging to a fantasy. He wants it both ways, which is typical of the Tom Donahoe era. But holding to some unrealistic belief isn't the best thing for the franchise right now. They need to take their lumps. They need to put their future QB on the field and begin grooming him for next season.

It's torture to watch Bledsoe on the road. The idea of four more road games is almost too grisly to contemplate. Listening to him after games is a painful, pathetic exercise. He says he still believes in himself, but he sounds hollow, defeated, like a washed-up actor reading someone else's lines. Eric Moulds said Bledsoe was pressing and suggested it was because the pressure of playing in New England had gotten to him. He might as well have accused Bledsoe of choking. And when asked if it might be time for Losman, Moulds didn't exactly come rushing to Bledsoe's defense.

"That's a coaching staff decision," Moulds said. "If they feel J.P. is ready to play, that's the decision they'll make. I don't know what they'll do."

Stop kidding yourself, Mike. Don't insult your fans by pretending to be in contention. The fans aren't stupid. They know the Bills aren't ready to make a run. They're excited about McGahee and Lee Evans, and they want Losman. They'll back him through the transition, through the growing pains.

Sticking with Bledsoe until the team is mathematically eliminated simply prolongs the inevitable. This isn't about math. It's about logic, about being honest with yourself, your team and your fans. Turn the page. It's time.
email: jsullivan@buffnews.com

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