ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – The receivers are frustrated, the offensive line leaky, the injuries are piling up as fast as the losses, and the coach can’t settle on a quarterback.

Sound a little like last year’s Miami Dolphins?

Guess again.

The Dolphins are suddenly a model of consistency under rookie coach Nick Saban in comparison to their next opponent, the Buffalo Bills, who appear ready to take over the AFC East title of Team Turmoil.

Having lost three straight, the Bills (1-3) are showing signs of disarray in preparing to host their division rival Dolphins (2-1) today.

“If you were to ask me if the season is on the line this week? Oh yeah,” Bills tight end Mark Campbell said. “We’ve got to act now. We don’t have time to be fooling around anymore.”

Oh, but the fun might be only beginning after coach Mike Mularkey took the unusual step this week of refusing to say whether he’s replacing first-year starter J.P. Losman with veteran backup Kelly Holcomb.

Receiver Eric Moulds finally revealed the secret, saying Holcomb will get the start in an effort to provide the offense an experienced spark.

“He kind of knows where the ball should go and what things should happen,” Moulds said. “In that aspect you can do more with a veteran quarterback than what you can do with (a) young rookie quarterback.”

The Bills need something after managing 29 points in their last 14 quarters.

It’s a stretch in which Losman has been benched twice, gone 32-of-76 for 290 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions and acknowledged being somewhat hesitant.

Yet, Losman, awarded the starting job in place of Drew Bledsoe in February, has only been part of the problem.

Running back Willis McGahee has been knocked for being indecisive, the defense is banged up after losing linebacker Takeo Spikes to a season-ending injury and team president Tom Donahoe issued a warning this week that everyone, himself included, is on thin ice.

So much for a team hoping to get off to a fast start and build on last year’s 9-7 finish.

The only thing bolstering Buffalo’s hopes is how the team rallied from an 0-4 start last year.

“Just really drawing on the fact that we are a talented football team,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “We’re not in a panic mode by any stretch.”

The Dolphins are renewed under Saban, the former LSU coach who has authoritatively put his stamp on a team that stumbled through a 4-12 finish, the franchise’s worst since going 3-10-1 in 1969.

“The enthusiasm is back,” defensive end Jason Taylor said.

“Adversity is going to come sometimes unexpectedly, and you’ve got to deal with it. And we did a poor job of dealing with it last year.”

Gus Frerotte is the starter after the Dolphins went through three quarterbacks last year. First-round draft pick Ronnie Brown has provided the offense a running attack that was missing after Ricky Williams quit before training camp last year.

And Williams is ready to return next week after serving the final game of a four-game suspension.

The Dolphins’ strength remains their defense, a blitz-happy unit that forced three turnovers and four sacks in a 27-24 win over Carolina.

Things have gone so well that the Dolphins, coming off a bye, wound up atop the division without even playing a game last weekend after New England (2-2), the New York Jets (1-3) and Bills lost.

Saban is merely encouraged.

“Nobody should be overreacting,” he said. “I’m certainly not disappointed in where we are, but we certainly have a lot more improving to do.”

The next test is winning on the road. Including a 17-7 loss to the New York Jets at the Meadowlands on Sept. 18, Miami has lost eight of the last nine road games dating to the start of last season – the only win coming at San Francisco in November.

Taylor, a nine-year veteran, believes some of the team’s younger players might have been distracted by their first trip to New York.

He expects that to be different this weekend.

“We’re out of the city now, so we won’t see the bright lights, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty,” Taylor said.

“There isn’t a whole hell of a lot in Buffalo besides some (chicken) wings. And hopefully, that won’t be a distraction.”


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