Buffalo Bills beat writer Sal Maiorana agreed to talk about the team with Patriots Insider Jon Scott. We thank Sal for his time and sharing his thoughts with all of the fans.
1) What is the story with Eric Moulds? Has this been something that's been festering, or just a product of the season?
SM: Moulds has been frustrated much of the year, in fact much of the past five years in the Tom Donahoe era. His role in the offense has diminished, and Sunday in Miami everything came to a head. There was a sideline confrontation between he and receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and Moulds was told to sit down the rest of the day. Now he has been summoned to a meeting with Mike Mularkey, Donahoe and owner Ralph Wilson to determine his fate which could include a suspension.
2) What impact will the recent events by Eric Moulds will have on his career with the Bills, since he was sent home from practice will he play on Sunday?
SM: Moulds is not going to be in Buffalo next year anyway which is why this situation is so bizarre. His cap number is nearly $11 million in 2006, so there's no way the Bills are bringing him back, and he won't agree to a huge salary cut. The Bills should have let this incident slide and just go quietly into the night, letting Moulds play out his last four weeks in Buffalo with all the hoopla.
3) Is Mularkey safe, or should he be getting his resume put together? And how about his staff, any potential replacements there?
SM: It would seem that Mularkey's job is safe because he signed a five-year contract which has three years remaining after 2005. That's a lot of money for Wilson to eat. As far as the staff, there is a very real possibility that both coordinators might be canned. Jerry Gray's star has fallen since his defense has tumbled so badly this year, and Tom Clements had the offensive play-calling duties yanked a few weeks ago and Mularkey now calls the majority of the plays. Clements is rumored to be in the running for the Temple job.
4) Tom Donohue has been under a lot of heat, not unlike Matt Millen in Detroit. Even though Donohue received an extension, is there any way he holds onto his job after the season?
SM: There is a rumbling in Buffalo that Donahoe will be fired after this season, despite the extension. His tenure has been a disaster as a 30-46 record would indicate. Then again, Wilson is 87 and he hired Donahoe with the intention of not having to go through this again, so it's uncertain where the owner stands on the issue. One thing we do know, he's tired of losing.
5) What is the biggest problem with the team; offense, defense or other?
SM: Everything is a problem in Buffalo, except for special teams which have been terrific. The offense is inconsistent, nothing surprising given the young quarterback who is in charge. The offensive line is the root of the struggles, though. It's a weak group, defined by the failure of Mike Williams, the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2002 who has become a colossal bust. On defense, all of a sudden these guys got old and went from No. 2 in the league to No. 26. The run defense has been putrid, and you can't blame it all on the season-ending injury to Takeo Spikes.
6) J.P. Losman took over the job when Kelly Holcomb went down with an injury. If Holcomb didn't get injured would he still be starting? Can you talk a bit about the difference between the two QBs.
SM: The move to Holcomb came at the right time with the record at 1-3. It was early enough in the season where perhaps a veteran QB could provide a spark. But once they fell to 3-5 and it was obvious the team was going nowhere, the call for Losman began to come. Sure enough, Holcomb got hurt and Losman went back in. He has played better the second time around, and deserves to be the starter instead of Holcomb.
The biggest difference between the two is mobility - Losman has it, Holcomb doesn't. Of course, Holcomb makes up for that with his ability to read defenses and go through his progression quicker and more decisively. But Losman is coming along.
7) What was the biggest disappointment (player or situation) of the season for you as an observer?
SM: Just the fact that many of us believed this team was ready to become a playoff contender as long as Losman didn't totally bust. He wasn't great early, but it was other aspects of the team that failed greater than he. The collapse of the defense is foremost on the list. It's another year of no playoffs, and that has gotten old.
8) Have any of the team's offseason acquisitions or draft picks surprised you, positively or negatively?
SM: Not really. Roscoe Parrish was drafted in the second round to be a third-down receiver and an injury has really limited his effectiveness. However, given the glaring needs on both lines, it was a dubious pick at best. The two offensive line free agents, Mike Gandy and Bennie Anderson, have been average at best and have not solidified the line.
9) What happened on Sunday vs the Dolphins that we didn't already hear about?
SM: Nothing. It was just a total meltdown on both sides of the ball. The Bills got too comfortable with the big lead and stopped playing, and the coaching staff had no answer for Miami's adjustments.
10) Do you think the Bills can win on Sunday? Any predictions?
SM: They have a chance because they're at a home where they are a totally different team. New England is no great shakes this season and is beatable. However, if Moulds doesn't play and the issue distracts the team, it could be very easily be an ugly day.
Thank You Sal.
can be found covering the Buffalo Bills for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Sal's columns can be read regularly on the sports section of the RD&M. If you have questions for Sal you can E-mail him here.