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Blank on the road looking for GM, head coach

A highly successful businessman, Falcons owner Arthur Blank now has transformed himself into a tireless recruiter.

Blank spent Wednesday in Green Bay, interviewing Packers director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie and John Schneider, the Packers' personnel analyst to general manager, for the Falcons' vacant GM position.

From Green Bay, Blank is headed to Indianapolis, where he is scheduled to interview Colts vice president of football operations Chris Polian on Thursday for the Falcons' GM job.

And from Indianapolis, Blank will visit Dallas, where he is scheduled to interview Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett on Friday for the Falcons head coaching job.

And once he wraps up those trips, Blank plans to hone in on Eagles general manager Tom Heckert, who would be allowed to leave Philadelphia only because he would be given more decision-making responsibility in Atlanta.

Garrett is one of the hottest, if not the hottest, candidate among NFL assistant coaches. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted in November that he is "very concerned" about losing Garrett to another team. Jones wants to keep Garrett in Dallas as long as possible, but Garrett would like the opportunity to be a head coach, something Blank could provide.

Garrett is said to be intrigued with Blank and the Falcons organization. It is up to Blank, if Garrett is Atlanta's No. 1 choice, to sell him on the franchise and the city. If he does, it would be a coup for Blank, landing the 41-year-old coach who has come with rave reviews from people such as Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

But Blank also is going to have to fend off the Ravens, who have compiled a lengthy list of potential candidates, including Garrett. The Ravens faxed a request to the Cowboys on Thursday, seeking permission to interview Garrett. They did the same for Sparano, who has tremendous support within the Cowboys organization.

But the Ravens are just getting started. Blank already is well into his recruiting trip.

Making a list

The Ravens spent much of this week in meetings, debating which coaching candidates they should be pursuing to replace Brian Billick, who was fired on Monday.

Baltimore discussed 30 -- 30! -- potential candidates, leaving Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti plenty of work to do to uncover the potential "Hall of Fame" coach he is seeking to take over his franchise.

The Ravens already have faxed permission requests to the Cowboys to interview Sparano and Garrett, the Indianapolis Colts to interivew their assistant head coach, Jim Caldwell, and the New England Patriots to interview their offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels.

The Ravens want to make sure they contact the assistant coaches in this season's playoffs and attempt to interview them this week, during the window that is open. After this week the Ravens can focus on coaches not involved in the postseason.

But the Ravens' work is far from done. There still will be more meetings, further debating the merits that each particular head coach could bring, as Baltimore continues to do the legwork to find a new coach. It could be a while before the Ravens hire their new head man.

Coordinator carousel

San Francisco is searching for a new offensive coordinator and the leading candidate is not Mike Martz, who was dismissed Wednesday.

The leading candidate to take over as the 49ers offensive coordinator is former Georgia Tech and Dallas Cowboys head coach Chan Gailey.

Niners coach Mike Nolan spent five seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s working with Gailey in Denver. There is a comfort level there between the two men, and Gailey has respect around the league.

Martz might have interested the 49ers front office and coaching staff, but ownership never seemed keen on the idea of bringing on the former Lions signal caller. Thus while San Francisco looks at Gailey, Martz is left to look elsewhere.

The Kansas City Chiefs need an offensive coordinator after firing Mike Solari, and they could opt to take a run at Martz, who wants to coach next season. But if Martz cannot land the right job, he does have a contract with one year remaining on it that Detroit would be obligated to pay.

Payday for Paydirt

When Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year on Wednesday, his resume grew longer and his pockets deeper.

Peterson's contract contained a $250,000 incentive for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Peterson would rather trade the incentive for a playoff share, but it was a nice post-Christmas consolation prize.

The secret

Any team hoping to rebuild this offseason must address its quarterback position and its scoring defense.

If this past season proved anything, a team must be strong in those two areas to advance to the postseason.

Just look: The top eight scoring defenses and the eight highest-rated quarterbacks all advanced to the postseason.

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