Unease in Buffalo

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:54 PM ET

It can be both the beauty and the curse of being a diehard fanatic of an NFL team.

Seven long days and seven long nights to get higher than the Peace Bridge over each win and below the Lake Erie waterline for each loss.

The smaller the market, the bigger the swing in emotion and the more animated the analysis gets.

As we were well aware by now, nowhere does the ride churn wilder than in Buffalo where another fall has begun with plenty to rile the Bills faithful.

For the second consecutive season, the local heros are off to a miserable start and burrowing themselves into an early hole. There is plenty of time to recover from a 1-2 record -- as the Bills showed a year ago -- but what are the prospects this time?

A defence that was expected to dominate enough to give first-year quarterback J.P. Losman time to get his feet wet, hasn't delivered. And that was before it lost its engine, linebacker Takeo Spikes, for the rest of the season.

An offence that at least has a power running back in Willis McGahee, has struggled in the red zone, scoring just two offensive touchdowns.

As it so often does -- and misguided as it can be -- the raging flashpoint for debate begins with the quarterback.

Second-year pro but first-year starter Losman talked a good game in training camp but has yet to play one. Time and the depth of the Bills management's patience will tell if he's a legitimate NFL starter or not.

In the short term, all Losman has done is make the departed Drew Bledsoe look good in comparison. The supposedly immobile Bledsoe has thrown six touchdown passes and been sacked six times with his new team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Alleged scrambler Losman has been nailed seven times and has just one touchdown strike while completing less than half of his attempts.

So is it the quarterback, the offensive line or the system giving the Bills fits? Probably a bit of all three.

It would be neither fair nor prudent to evaluate Losman after just three games, either. Quarterbacks develop at different paces, after all.

This year's phenom, Carson Palmer, is the headliner of the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. In the 13 games he started as a rookie though, Palmer took some lumps along the curve.

Three years and counting, the Detroit Lions are still waiting for Joey Harrington.

The Atlanta Falcons allowed Micheal Vick to start just two games in his rookie season, not wanting to rush what they were banking on being a future superstar.

How long do the Bills stick with Losman? They don't have much choice but to wait it out for the rest of this season and hope for enough progress to carry on.

GROWING PAINS

While they worry about the future of the quarterback position, though, the Bills may have bigger problems in the area that was supposed to be their strong suit.

Unable to stop a scrambling Vick this past Sunday and a power running back in Carnell (Cadillac) Williams Week 2 in Tampa Bay, this defence won't be feared for much longer.

It will be five years this January that the Bills previously played in a post-season game and the restlessness is growing in Orchard Park.

Of course, that all could change by next week. And if it doesn't ... there's always the Sabres.


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