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Bills interested in Jets coordinator Schottenheimer, AP source says

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Add New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to the Bills' list of head-coaching candidates.

The Bills have asked the Jets for permission to interview Schottenheimer, a source told The Associated Press on Monday. It's unclear when the interview might take place, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills haven't revealed their list of candidates to replace Dick Jauron, who was fired in November.

The son of former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, Brian Schottenheimer is in his fourth season as the Jets' offensive coordinator.

This season, Schottenheimer was credited for overseeing a run-oriented offense that allowed rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to develop. Sanchez, a first-round draft pick, helped New York to a 9-7 finish and a playoff berth.

Under NFL rules, the Jets can't deny the Bills' request, but they can decide when the interview will take place. Following a 24-14 win at Cincinnati, the Jets will travel to San Diego to play the Chargers in an AFC divisional playoff game on Sunday.

The Bills have a small window of opportunity if they intend to interview Schottenheimer this week because the Jets are scheduled to travel to San Diego on Friday afternoon.

The Bills have talked to at least four candidates about the job, including former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher and former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who has since been hired to take over the Washington Redskins.

The Bills also have interviewed Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Perry Fewell, who had a 3-4 record in finishing the season as Buffalo's interim head coach.

FoxSports.com reported that the Bills also have asked the Arizona Cardinals for permission to interview assistant head coach/running game coordinator Russ Grimm. The Cardinals declined comment, referring questions to the Bills.

Schottenheimer has connections to new Bills general manager Buddy Nix. The two worked together with the Chargers in the mid-2000s.

Schottenheimer has played a key role in developing quarterbacks. In 2006 with the Jets, Chad Pennington finished with a career-best 3,352 passing yards. Schottenheimer also helped tutor Drew Brees when the Pro Bowl passer played for the Chargers.

Schottenheimer's work with quarterbacks would make him an ideal fit in Buffalo, which has yet to find a long-term replacement since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season. The Bills have gone through 10 starters at quarterback since, including three this past season. The longest-serving starter during that stretch was Drew Bledsoe (2002 to 2004).

Schottenheimer expressed little interest in leaving the Jets last week, when he was first mentioned as a candidate for the Bills job. But he didn't entirely rule out interviewing.

"If somebody came and wanted to talk to me, would I listen? Probably," he said. "But I'm saying that I'm very happy here. I love the area. I love working with Rex. I'm excited about the things we're doing offensively, and I'm really content."

The Bills went 6-10 this season to miss the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season. They are in the midst of their fifth coaching search since Hall of Hamer Marv Levy retired following the 1997 season.

Bills fans favor Cowher, even though team owner Ralph Wilson played down the possibility of that happening last week.

An electronic billboard overlooking an interstate highway leading out of Buffalo began flashing a message Monday, urging Wilson to hire Cowher. Fans raised $1,125 through an Internet campaign to rent the billboard for a week.

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