NFL considers revisions to Rooney Rule

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NFL considers revisions to Rooney Rule

Jim Caldwell nearly went undefeated as a rookie coach in Indianapolis three years ago and he's one win away from returning to the Super Bowl as an assistant with Baltimore.

Yet Caldwell didn't get one interview for any of the eight coaching vacancies in the NFL this year.

``That's almost impossible for me to comprehend,'' John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, told The Associated Press on Friday.

Eight teams hired new coaches and seven more filled general manager positions with the New York Jets completing their search by hiring John Idzik. None of those jobs went to a minority.

Now the league is considering revisions to the ``Rooney Rule,'' which mandates that teams must interview at least one minority candidate for front-office and head coaching jobs.

``While there has been full compliance with the interview requirements of the Rooney Rule and we wish the new head coaches and general managers much success, the hiring results this year have been unexpected and reflect a disappointing lack of diversity,'' Robert Gulliver, the NFL's executive vice president of human resources, said in a statement.

``The Rooney Rule has been a valuable tool in expanding diversity and inclusion in hiring practices, but there is more work to do, especially around increasing and strengthening the pipeline of diverse candidates for head coach and senior football executive positions.

``We have already started the process of developing a plan for additional steps that will better ensure more diversity and inclusion on a regular basis in our hiring results. We look forward to discussing these steps with our advisers to ensure that our employment, development and equal opportunity programs are both robust and successful.''

Wooten said his group is already working on a proposal.

``We feel very strongly there's a need to extend the rule,'' Wooten said. ``I'm disappointed, but not discouraged because we have a plan of action. We're putting it together right now and we're going to present our thoughts and ideas to the league. We'll be working together to make something happen.''

Caldwell won his first 14 games with the Colts in 2009 before losing the final two regular-season games after resting Peyton Manning and most of his starters. The Colts reached the Super Bowl only to lose to the New Orleans Saints. Indianapolis went 10-6 the following season and captured another AFC South title, but lost to the New York Jets in a wild-card game. With Manning sidelined all of last season, the Colts went just 2-14 and Caldwell lost his job.

He joined the Ravens as quarterbacks coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator in mid-December. Baltimore has averaged 25.8 points in the five games since Caldwell replaced Cam Cameron. In two playoff wins, the Ravens have scored 62 points, including 38 in a double-overtime win at Denver last week.

``Anybody in this business would certainly like to get to the point where they reach the top of their profession,'' Caldwell said earlier this month. ``They'd love to have an opportunity to be a head coach, and I'm no different.''

But Caldwell has to wait until next year. So does Lovie Smith.

The Chicago Bears fired Smith after he went 10-6. He interviewed with Philadelphia, San Diego and Buffalo. The Eagles chose Chip Kelly, the Bills hired Doug Marrone and the Chargers went with Mike McCoy.

At least Smith had an opportunity. Caldwell didn't. Neither did Winston Moss, an assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers.

``I'm probably more disappointed that Jim Caldwell and Winston Moss didn't get interviews,'' Wooten said. ``Caldwell could've been undefeated his rookie year if (then Colts general manager) Bill Polian doesn't make the decision to bench Manning. And Moss is such an impressive coach. Look at the way he held together the Packers' linebackers with all their injuries.''

Keith Armstrong, special teams coach for Atlanta, interviewed for vacancies with Kansas City, Philadelphia and Chicago. Armstrong wasn't really considered a serious candidate for those teams. Some believe he was granted interviews simply to satisfy the Rooney Rule. The Chiefs hired Andy Reid just a few days after the Eagles fired him. The Bears chose Marc Trestman.

``I would never tell a guy not to take an interview because it's not a realistic interview,'' Wooten said. ``Keith Armstrong is a strong talent evaluator and excellent coach.''

There were a total of 203 minority coaches in the NFL in 2012, including six head coaches. With Smith and Romeo Crennel out, only four minorities will start the 2013 season as head coaches. That's the fewest since 2003.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

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AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

The Ravens can expect to see Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison as an opponent again in 2016. Harrison confirmed on his Instagram account Monday that he would return for another season.

Harrison will turn 38 years old Wednesday (May 4), but he was still effective in 2015 with five sacks and 40 tackles playing in the Steelers’ linebacker rotation. With his announcement that he was returning, Harrison wrote “I’m feeling just like a fine wine. Getting better with age.”

Despite Harrison’s age, the Steelers believe they got younger and better on defense through the draft. Five of the Steelers’ seven picks were on defense – cornerback Artie Burns (first round), safety Sean Davis (second), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (third round), outside linebacker Travis Feeney (sixth round), and inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich (seventh round).  

Clearly, there will be plenty of new names in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, with both teams looking to get younger and faster. However, Harrison plans to be part of the mix for at least another season. The Ravens host the Steelers in Week 9, and visit the Steelers on Christmas afternoon.

MORE RAVENS: BISCIOTTI GETS HIS WISH WITH BOLSTERED PASS RUSH

Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

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Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

At the team's "State of the Ravens" end-of-season news conference, owner Steve Bisciotti made no bones about where he thought the Ravens needed to improve in 2016: rushing the passer.

So although Bisciotti didn't speak to the media after the draft, he had to be pleased with the results.

With two of their first three picks, the Ravens selected players who figure to pressure the quarterback -- Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa and Brigham Young defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.

"They both have pass rush ability," coach John Harbaugh said. "They both get sacks, they are both high-motor players and high-energy pass rushers. These two guys are going to run to the ball. These two guys are going to run to the ball 100 miles an hour every single play. That’s really important on defense.”

The next day, the Ravens added Grand Valley State defensive end Matt Judon -- who had 20 sacks last year -- in the fifth round. Just for good measure, they also reportedly agreed to sign undrafted rookie linebacker Victor Ochi of Stony Brook, who led the Football Championship Subdivision with 13 sacks.

Harbaugh said after the draft that "I don't think it was a secret" that Bisciotti wanted the Ravens to upgrade the pass rush, "and we were able to fill (that need). I’m really fired up about that. I’m really excited about these guys getting to the quarterback.”

Bisciotti said in January that losing Terrell Suggs to a season-ending injury in Week 1 had a "domino effect" that greatly disrupted the defense. Elvis Dumervil was forced into more of a three-down role, and Courtney Upshaw never came close to replacing Suggs' sack numbers. Dumervil dropped from 17 sacks to six, and overall the Ravens dropped from 49 sacks in 2014 to 37 last season.

When the pass rush failed to pressure the quarterback, coverage linebackers or defensive backs were frequently exposed.

"I think I have a true appreciation of what pressure means, and so that’s what I think we need to do," Bisciotti had said in January. "I think we need to focus on our free agency and our draft, and I think we have to have multiple pass rushers in order to let everybody else be effective.”

Suggs turns 34 in October and is coming off his second major Achilles injury. Dumervil is 32. So the need to develop good young pass rushers is obvious. The Ravens hope they took a big step in that direction over the weekend.

MORE RAVENS: EVALUATING ALL FIVE 4TH-ROUND SELECTIONS

Will Ravens' record-setting fourth-round bonanza live up to the hype?

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Will Ravens' record-setting fourth-round bonanza live up to the hype?

Will the Ravens’ fourth-round haul live up to the hype?

No team in NFL history had ever made five fourth-round picks, and some felt the Ravens hit on all of them. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says, “This might be the best fourth round I’ve ever seen from a team.”

Here’s a closer look at how the five players the Ravens selected in Round 4 could fit in next season:

Tavon Young, CB, Temple (104th overall)

Young will compete for a nickel corner spot as a rookie. Barring injuries, the only certainty about the Ravens secondary is Jimmy Smith starting at one corner and Eric Weddle starting at safety. Young will compete for playing time with Shareece Wright, Kyle Arrington, Will Davis, and others. But if Young plays regularly as a rookie and helps them win games, it’s a steal.

Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati (107)

Moore has legit deep speed, joining Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace as receivers that can stretch the field for quarterback Joe Flacco. Think about it, the Ravens didn’t’ have Perriman, Wallace, or Moore on the field last season. If Moore has a strong training camp, the Ravens will find a way to get him some opportunities. Remember the big plays Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones made during the Super Bowl year? The Ravens hope Wallace, Perriman, and Moore provide that kind of impact.

Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska (130)

If the Ravens part with left tackle Eugene Monroe, Lewis could become the backup at left tackle behind first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. Lewis could also be the backup to right tackle Rick Wagner. Either way, Lewis could be one injury away from playing.

Willie Henry, DT, Michigan (132)

He’s the fourth-rounder with the hardest path to immediate playing time. The Ravens are deep at defensive tackle with Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, and Carl Davis. But if Henry shows he can help as a run stopper, he’ll be part of the defensive line rotation.

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech (134)

Some thought Dixon was the best pass-catching back in the draft. Justin Forsett will enter camp as the starter, but the Ravens want to keep him fresh. It’s a crowded running back group right now, but Buck Allen and Lorenzo Taliaferro both saw playing time as rookie running backs. Dixon will too, if he shows he’s ready to make plays.

MORE RAVENS: A WAY TOO EARLY NFL DRAFT TOP 10