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Friday, January 10, 2014
Saints morning report: Keeping Pace

By Mike Triplett

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints denied the Miami Dolphins permission to interview director of player personnel Ryan Pace for their general manager vacancy, according to FOX's Jay Glazer and later confirmed by ESPN.com. The reasons were not specified -- though teams can generally deny such interviews if the promotion isn't substantial enough. Different teams give different levels of power to their general managers.

Pace is obviously highly valued in the Saints organization. He was promoted this year to his current role, where he oversees all pro and college scouting. Previously, he served as the team's pro scouting director. Before he joined the Saints in 2001, Pace played defensive end at Eastern Illinois from 1995-1999 (coincidentally the same alma mater as coach Sean Payton, since Pace predates Payton in New Orleans).

Pace, who works under longtime Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, has long been in charge of the Saints' evaluation of pro talent available from other teams and in free agency -- as well as scouting upcoming opponents.

Meanwhile, there have been no reports of any Saints coaches being requested for interviews around the league. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan have both been head-coaching candidates in the past, but neither has surfaced as a candidate so far this year.

Ryan is a particularly fascinating candidate since he has such a colorful personality. But considering the remarkable job he has done with the Saints defense, the way he is beloved by players and appreciated by the rest of the organization, he could resurface as a prospect in the near future. He's even shown more restraint than past years with the media -- while remaining an extremely entertaining and insightful interview.

Carmichael, meanwhile, does not have a dynamic public personality. But his offensive mind and pedigree has made him an attractive candidate. And the recent success of similar-style offensive thinkers like Marc Trestman and Joe Philbin can't hurt his chances.

Quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi got some looks as an offensive coordinator candidate last year, as well. That's a promotion that seems inevitable at some point.

Worth repeating: Ryan has made no secret about how thrilled he's been to wind up with a winning organization like the Saints this year. He stressed that again Thursday when asked about being in the playoffs for the first time as a defensive coordinator (though he was quick to point out that he had won six playoff games in the past as a linebackers coach with the New England Patriots).

“This is a great place to come to work. I have a smile on my face every day,” Ryan said, “because I've been on other roads that weren't quite as much fun to get to work to, I can promise you.”

Galette the ‘Good Guy': Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette was named the 2013 winner of the Jim Finks Good Guy Award -- as voted on by the local media each year. The award recognizes a player for his professionalism and cooperation with reporters in doing their jobs.

Galette was a deserving winner in a locker room loaded with deserving candidates. He's always available during the week, after wins or losses. He's honest. And he's colorful, too, which doesn't hurt. As I wrote about Galette earlier this year, I'm not sure I've ever met a player as fired up about football as he has been since the day he arrived as an undrafted free agent in 2010.

Past winners on the current roster include Zach Strief, Malcolm Jenkins and Drew Brees.

Road rituals: As Saints coach Sean Payton tweeted on Thursday, the Saints stuck with many of the new road rituals that served them well on their trip to Philadelphia last week -- with some slight tweaks. The Gatorade bottles in his picture were blue and orange, instead of green. And the travel sweat suits were new. This time they're gray -- and they have a No. 3 on it instead of a No. 4. Clearly, players are eager to earn the sweats with No. 2 and No. 1 on them.

Worth a click:

ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert examines whether or not Payton and the Saints put too much emphasis on dealing with the crowd noise in Seattle the last time around.

In this article that requires Insider access Insider, ESPN.com's Mike Sando takes a look at what a fearsome player Seattle safety Kam Chancellor is -- and how that affected tight end Jimmy Graham on one play in the first matchup.

ESPN.com Seahawks reporter Terry Blount expects quarterback Russell Wilson to remain cool under pressure in his second playoff appearance -- since he was already that way as a rookie last year.