- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Doug Marrone benched his struggling second-year quarterback a few weeks ago, a move that has paid off so far for the Buffalo Bills.

Rex Ryan has been sticking with his, and the New York Jets are still searching for their first win since opening day.

Different approaches, different results for the AFC East rivals.

Marrone pulled EJ Manuel after Buffalo’s 23-17 loss at Houston in Week 4 and turned to journeyman Kyle Orton. The Bills (4-3) have won two of three since.

“It goes by performance and we were looking for more production,” Marrone said. “EJ has taken a step back and he’s doing very well supporting Kyle anytime he can or anything he can do to help. Kyle was in that role before, and he did anything he could to help. That’s pretty much it.”

Both Manuel, a first-round draft pick last year, and Orton, signed just before the season began, have thrown five touchdown passes and three interceptions. But Orton joined Oakland’s Jeff George (1997) as the only QBs since 1960 to have three straight games with 283-plus yards passing in his first three starts with a team, according to STATS.

“He just brings that leadership and that swag to our team,” rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins said of Orton, “and he’s been doing great.”

Despite calls for Michael Vick to replace Geno Smith, Ryan has made it clear that the Jets are committed to finding out whether their second-rounder last year is the future of the franchise.

“Really,” Ryan said, “I see him getting better.”

Smith has struggled mightily at times, with seven interceptions and two lost fumbles. He also made headlines recently for shouting an expletive at a heckler after a game and missing a team meeting the night before the Jets (1-6) played at San Diego. But his performance against New England last week - no turnovers for the first time this season - could be a building block.

“It’s tough on him because the quarterback takes all the heat for wins and losses, but I feel like he’s done a great job so far,” rookie tight end Jace Amaro said.

Here are a few other things to know about the Bills’ matchup with the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday:

HERE’S HARVIN: The Jets pulled off a stunning trade last week, acquiring wide receiver Percy Harvin from Seattle for a conditional draft pick. Now, how will New York use the dynamic player?

Ryan said Harvin will return kicks against the Bills, but cautioned against him having a huge role on offense - at least at first. Harvin acknowledged he was frustrated with the lack of downfield plays he had with the Seahawks, but the Jets severely lacked a deep threat.

“I think I’m going to fit in great,” Harvin said. “The guys here, we’ve been talking. I’m loving them so far and they’re loving me. I’ve been embraced with open arms.”

BILLS’ BACKFIELD: Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are out. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown are in.

Buffalo has a new look in its backfield after Jackson (groin) and Spiller (collarbone) were sidelined for at least a few weeks. Dixon rushed for 51 yards after Spiller and Jackson went out against the Vikings, and Brown will make his season debut after being inactive the first seven games.

“We’re fortunate, probably not like a lot of teams, to really have a lot of depth at running back,” Orton said.

SUPER SAMMY: After a slow start, Watkins is establishing himself as a big-time playmaker for the Bills.

The No. 4 overall draft pick last May had career highs with nine catches, 122 yards receiving and two TD receptions against Minnesota, including a winning 2-yard TD catch with 1 second left. He has 35 catches for 433 yards and four TDs, with 27 of his receptions going for first downs.

DEFENSIVE FRONTS: The big boys up front on defense could be key for both teams.

The Bills lead the NFL with 24 sacks, led by defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with seven. Defensive ends Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes each have 5½ sacks, and Buffalo’s run defense ranks fourth in the league. The Bills did allow 158 yards rushing to the Vikings, the first time any opponent has topped 90 yards rushing against them this season.

Meanwhile, the Jets are tied for sixth with 20 sacks, led by defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson’s four. New York also ranks eighth against the run.

STARTS: The Bills enter Sunday above .500 through seven games for only the fourth time since 2000, and first since 2011 - when they opened 5-2, but finished 6-10.

The Jets have lost six straight, the longest skid in Ryan’s six-year tenure. They’re in danger of their first seven-game losing streak since Herm Edwards’ final season as coach in 2005, when New York went 4-12.

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AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Orchard Park, New York, contributed to this story.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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