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The Buffalo Bills’ players don’t know much about Doug Marrone.

One of their great former rivals, however, holds the new Buffalo Bills coach in high regard.

Retired center Kevin Mawae, an eight-time Pro Bowler, played for Marrone when the coach directed the New York Jets’ offensive line for four seasons.

“I’ve had four great offensive line coaches, and he’s definitely one of them,” Mawae said. “Buffalo’s lucky to have him. The one thing I always appreciated about Doug is he played the game. He played in college at a high level, played in the NFL. That gave him a perspective that a lot of times coaches don’t have. Players appreciate that.”

Mawae said Marrone was an excellent communicator.

“He did a great job of teaching concepts,” Mawae said. “As a young player, a lot of times you worry just about your assignment and who’s in front of you. But Doug taught us concepts of, ‘We’re doing this slide protection because it’s going to complement the running game in this way. We’re going to run this protection and show this kind of front so we can get the defensive backfield to react certain ways.’ And he would be able to teach it to you in a way where you understood it, where it wasn’t complicated physics. He made the game easy to understand, and he coached in a way that required no sugar-coating. You didn’t have to figure out what he was trying to tell you. It’s just cut and dried; this is how it is, straightforward.

“As far as the X’s and O’s, one thing that I liked about Doug was not only did he know what he was doing, he knew the history behind the game. When he talked about running a certain blocking scheme, he would tell us, ‘This started because of Coach So-and-So back in the 1970s.’ He had perspective on the evolution of the game. I enjoyed that.”

Meanwhile, several Bills had a similar reaction to the hire. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to start winning.

“It looks like a good hire from the outside looking in, and I’m definitely excited to get to know him and start working with him,” said center Eric Wood. “From what I’ve been reading, he considers one of his mentors Tom Coughlin [of the New York Giants]. So that tells me we better be ready for some tough days ahead. But hard work will get us where we want to go.

“You can’t shy away from hard work when you’re sitting here watching the playoffs.”

“I don’t really know much about him, and I haven’t watched Syracuse play,” said Bills receiver Donald Jones. “I’ve heard that he runs a good offense. I’m definitely excited about getting to work.”

Tweeted Bills back C.J. Spiller: “Ready to get to work. I’m tired of sitting home during the playoffs.”

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Marrone’s search for offensive and defensive coordinators is under way.

The Bills have asked Jacksonville for permission to speak with defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, CBS Sports reported. Jacksonville’s assistant coaches have been told they are free to pursue other job opportunities.

The Bills have asked permission to speak with Jets coordinator Mike Pettine, according to multiple reports. Pettine’s contract is due to expire next month. He declined a chance to sign an extension with the Jets last month.

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Quotes on Marrone:

From CBS analyst Phil Simms: “I know 25-25 [at Syracuse] does not sound like a great record, but that program was completely in the gutter when he went up there. He did a wonderful job.”

From CBS analyst Rich Gannon: “That was a mess when you took the job at Syracuse. They had won 10 games the previous four years with Greg Robinson. He was a miracle worker up in Syracuse. He won there and I think he’ll put together a good staff in Buffalo. I think he can win there with the talent that they have.

email: tgraham@buffnews.com and mgaughan@buffnews.com