NFC South: Ryan Pace

Loomis: Secret is out on Ryan Pace

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
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MOBILE, Ala. -- After losing quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi to the Detroit Lions on Tuesday, New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was asked about another hot name in the organization -- player personnel director Ryan Pace.

Earlier this month, the Saints denied the Miami Dolphins permission to interview Pace for their general manager vacancy. Loomis said Tuesday that they denied the request because the Saints were still in the playoffs at the time. But Loomis said he expects Pace to get away at some point.

When asked if he could describe what makes Pace so talented, Loomis said, "Yes, I can, but I don't like to. I kind of feel like he's been our secret for a while.”

“But look, he's a great, young personnel director,” Loomis continued. “He's got a great eye for talent and guys that fit with what we are doing and what we want to do. He's very talented. He's a guy that we're going to lose at some point.”

Pace originally joined the Saints in 2001 as an assistant in areas like game-day and training-camp operations before working his way up through the scouting department. He was promoted last year from pro scouting director into his current role, where he oversees all pro and college scouting.
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.

Around the NFC South

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
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A look at the top Monday morning headlines from around the NFC South:

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

General manger Mickey Loomis begins his eight-game suspension Monday. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt also starts a six-game suspension and defensive end Will Smith begins a four-game suspension. Aaron Kromer will coach the team in Vitt’s absence. Director of pro scouting Ryan Pace will lead the front office during Loomis’ absence.

After cutting down to 53 players, the New Orleans Saints tweaked their roster Sunday. They claimed cornerback Jerome Murphy off waivers from the St. Louis Rams and released cornerback Elbert Mack. This one is not a huge surprise. Although Mack did some good things in the preseason, Murphy played for New Orleans defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo with the Rams.

Check out this photo of a Louisiana man rescuing a framed Drew Brees jersey from his flooded home.

ATLANTA FALCONS

The last time the Falcons faced the Chiefs, who they’ll open the season against Sunday, was in 2008. At that time, Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez was with the Chiefs. It also was the third game Matt Ryan started at quarterback for the Falcons, who won that game, 38-14.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said that veteran defensive end John Abraham again will be on a snap count. The Falcons did that last year to help keep the veteran fresh.

The Falcons filled out their practice squad by signing tight end Chase Coffman, safety Mark LeGree and linebacker Pat Schiller.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Captains Jon Beason and Steve Smith returned to practice Sunday after missing significant time. Smith missed two weeks with a foot infection. Beason missed nearly a month with a hamstring injury. Both are expected to play in Sunday’s opener with Tampa Bay. Running back Jonathan Stewart remains out with an ankle injury and his condition is expected to be evaluated later in the week.

Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis, who is coming back from his third torn ACL, says he plans to play at a high level. It might seem difficult to imagine Davis being the player he was before the injuries, but I wouldn’t bet against this guy.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Tampa Bay receiver Arrelious Benn, who had been out with an injury since the first day of training camp, returned to practice over the weekend and said he hopes to be ready for the season opener with Carolina. I don’t know if it will happen immediately, but it shouldn’t be too long before Benn is the third receiver behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.

With it looking like a very strong possibility that the NFL will be using replacement referees to start the season, several of the Bucs say they have concerns. Cornerback Ronde Barber said the replacement refs are not incompetent, but aren’t used to working on the NFL level. In a league that says its first priority is the safety of the players, I don’t know that going with replacement refs is the best way to keep everyone safe.

Around the NFC South

August, 23, 2012
8/23/12
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A look at the top Thursday morning headlines from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Rookie Lamar Holmes, who has missed a lot of time with an injured toe, will make his preseason debut Friday night. Good for him, but I simply am not getting why so many fans think Holmes has a chance to instantly beat out Sam Baker for the starting left tackle job. I mean, I understand that Baker is not a fan favorite, and with backup Will Svitek lost to season-ending injury, there’s no one else to root for. But let’s be realistic. Holmes was a third-round draft pick, and many had him rated as a sixth-round talent. The Falcons took him as a project, and he barely has been on the practice field so far. The Falcons aren’t anywhere close to putting him out there to protect Matt Ryan’s blind side. They’ll give Baker every chance, and if they have some doubts, I suspect they first would bring in someone from outside or move backup right tackle Mike Johnson. Hey, former Carolina tackle Jeff Otah is out there, but I’m not sure he can pass a physical.

Mark Bradley has a column on the common perception that Ryan’s right arm suddenly got stronger because the quarterback lifted some weights in the offseason. Ryan politely scoffs at that notion, and he’s correct. As I’ve said many times, Ryan’s arm always has been strong enough to throw the deep ball. It’s just that he hasn’t always had great opportunities to do that, and you can blame most of that on the play-calling or on the offensive line not blocking well enough to allow it. I think all that is going to change with Dirk Koetter taking over as the offensive coordinator and Pat Hill as the offensive line coach.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Receiver Brandon LaFell said he doesn’t think there’s a secondary in the league that can stop Carolina’s receiving corps. Might sound a little brash from a guy that hasn’t completely proven himself. But confidence is generally something you want in your wide receivers. That trait always has worked pretty well for teammate Steve Smith.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Now that they’ve gone ahead and said offensive line coach Aaron Kromer will act as head coach for the first six games of the regular season, the next logical question is who will step in for general manager Mickey Loomis as he serves an eight-game suspension to start the season. Mike Triplett writes that Loomis doesn’t plan to name an official replacement, but pro scouting director Ryan Pace will have final say on roster moves. Director of football administration Khai Harley and director of college scouting Rick Reiprish also are expected to handle some of Loomis’ duties. These are guys Loomis relies on heavily all the time, and they’re familiar with his way of operating. I wouldn’t expect any big changes in philosophy. If the Saints have some in-season injuries and need to add some depth, these guys are more than capable of finding it.

Bradley Handwerger has an excellent story on Marquis Johnson. The New Orleans cornerback is speaking out against child abuse in an effort to prevent others from having to deal with what he faced as a youngster.

Running back Darren Sproles said he’ll sit out Saturday’s preseason game with Houston, but it would be a different story if it was a regular-season game.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

After practicing with the Bucs on Wednesday, New England quarterback Tom Brady said he really doesn’t know much about Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman. He’s not alone there. Although starting NFL quarterbacks generally are considered a fraternity, the guy at the top doesn’t know everybody. The way quarterbacks generally bond is by getting to know each other at the Pro Bowl or playing against one another in the Super Bowl, especially those that are in different conferences like Freeman and Brady. That’s not an indictment of Freeman. It’s just further evidence that there’s a lot of room for growth.

Speaking of room for growth, Gary Shelton writes that all the Bucs should be taking lessons from the Patriots as the teams continue practicing together Thursday and face off in a preseason game Friday night. Can’t argue with that. The Patriots pretty much have set the standard for success in the NFL for most of the past decade or so.

Williams says McAlister a perfect fit

November, 19, 2009
11/19/09
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New Orleans’ Gregg Williams isn’t just a good defensive coordinator. He’s also a very good quote.

Williams had a good assessment and some high praise for the Saints’ front office as he met with the media Thursday. Williams was spot-on when he said the Saints made the right move in going out and signing veteran cornerback Chris McAlister, instead of just sitting still, after injuries to starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter.

The Saints did exactly what any team with its eyes on the Super Bowl should have done.

“I think it’s another compliment to the organization that I’m learning about being involved with this organization,’’ Williams said. “I’ve been at places where you just did without. All of a sudden you get one of those defensive tackles to play corner or something like that. We always have a short list. I think Ryan Pace and his group [in the scouting department] upstairs do a tremendous job on who’s on the short list and bringing them in. I selfishly like veterans at this time of the year because I don’t have to catch them up as much. There are certain things he already knows about the National Football League, so we’ll just have to wait and see. He fits in well.’’

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