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MULARKEY'S CALLS ARE WRONG NUMBERS

Maybe it's something in the paint on the walls of the coaching office at One Bills Drive. Or the fiber in the carpet. Or the soap in the men's room. There has to be something amiss because Mike Mularkey is coaching a lot like the previous occupant of the office, Gregg Williams.

Take last Sunday night's misadventure in Massachusetts.

The Bills drove to the Patriots' 35-yard line when the game was still a game. The wind was negligible if not non-existent. There on the sidelines was Ryan Lindell, highest-paid kicker in the history of the franchise.

Mularkey sent Brian Moorman into the game to punt. That was the sort of thing Williams would do. That was the sort of thing that got him fired.

Am I saying that Mularkey should be fired nine games into his rookie season as a head coach? Of course not. He'll be here next year and probably to the end of his contract.

I applauded Mularkey when he hired a solid, experienced staff. That's what Williams didn't do and it put him in a deep hole from the start. Mularkey served under two successful coaches, Bill Cowher and Sam Wyche. The expectation was that he learned plenty from them. There are seven games left. Maybe Mike will at least equal Williams' goodbye record of 6-10 in 2003.

That is if he doesn't keep making bizarre decisions.

Take the competition between Travis Henry and Willis McGahee at the beginning of the season. Once McGahee started rolling, Mularkey stuck to the fiction that he had two starters, even though it was evident Willis could run outside on a regular basis and Henry runs outside on an irregular basis, and McGahee has much better acceleration.

Mularkey stuck to the line that "they're both starters," and suggested there were a number of positions where he had more than one starter. Starter "B," Henry, didn't touch the ball last week. Joe Burns did. Maybe he's starter "C."

Mularkey still sticks to the "everybody is a starter" malarkey. He can't decide whether Chris Kelsay or Ryan Denney is the man he wants in the starting lineup at defensive left end.

Now comes the J.P. Losman decision.

J.P. isn't starting against the Rams today because Mularkey doesn't want to throw him to the wolves before he's ready. To whom did he throw Losman last Sunday night, gerbils in Patriot uniforms?

When the late, late quarterback switch was made, J.P. was as surprised as anyone. If Mularkey is so worried about Losman's psyche, why didn't he have Wyche, a noted quarterback guru, at least holding his hand on the sidelines before he went out on the field?

The facts are that Drew Bledsoe is to the Bills what Joe Paterno is now to Penn State.

I wouldn't expect J.P. to replicate what Ben Roethlisberger is doing for Pittsburgh, and the Giants' switch to Eli Manning may bear little resemblance to the Buffalo situation. But consider another rookie, Craig Krenzel of Chicago.

Krenzel was drafted in the fifth round out of Ohio State by the Bears. He came to the organization as No. 4 on the quarterback depth chart. The scouting report was "very smart, very tough, not much of an arm." But when starter Rex Grossman was injured a month ago, Krenzel became the rookie starter. He's 3-0 with a team that features defense and running.

Krenzel should be the model for what the Bills do with Losman.
(Larry Felser, former News columnist, appears in Sunday's editions.)