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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

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Ravens hope to force Brady into kind of mistakes he rarely makes

Ravens hope to force Brady into kind of mistakes he rarely makes

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has thrown just one interception this season.

That’s one of the many challenges facing the Ravens (7-5) as they prepare for Monday night’s game at New England (10-2). The Ravens’ defense is tied for fifth in the NFL with 22 takeaways – 14 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. But Brady is a quarterback that rarely turns it over, with 19 touchdown passes and just one interception in 302 passing attempts.

Can the Ravens force Brady into uncharacteristic mistakes? It won’t be easy. Watching Brady on film, coach John Harbaugh sees a quarterback who looks as good as he ever has.

“If he’s lost anything physically, he definitely makes up for it with his mind and his experience,” Harbaugh said. “He’s moving very well. He’s moving around the pocket very well and creating throws for himself in the pocket. I don’t really see any diminished skill set whatsoever.”

Even if the Ravens can’t force Brady into interceptions, their pass rush could make his job a lot more difficult. The more pressure the Ravens can get on Brady, the less time he will have to pick them apart.

When the Seahawks won at New England last month, they sacked Brady twice, intercepted him, and held him without a touchdown pass. That’s the blueprint the Ravens hope to follow. However, the two starting quarterbacks with the best TD-interception ration are Brady (19-1) and Dak Prescott (19-2) of the Cowboys. Prescott threw three TD passes and no interceptions against the Ravens last month and beat them. The Ravens hope for better success against Brady.

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Ravens safety Eric Weddle was nearly a Patriot this season

Ravens safety Eric Weddle was nearly a Patriot this season

When Eric Weddle was released by the San Diego Chargers after last season he had plenty of offers to sign with other NFL teams.

One of those teams was the New England Patriots, the team Weddle will play against on Monday Night Football this week. 

When the two-time All-Pro safety hit the open market, he said he was looking to play for a winning organization. He ended up choosing the Ravens over the Patriots because there was a more clear-cut opportunity for playing time. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin McCourty is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Although the Ravens don't have quite as many wins as the Patriots this season, Weddle clearly made a good choice. The Ravens are tied for first place in the AFC North with the Steelers and Weddle is currently the highest graded safety in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. 

The Ravens defense is playing dominant football as a whole as well. Through week 13 Baltimore ranks first in the NFL in total defense surrenduring just 296.1 yards per game. 

RELATED: Weddle consumes a gallon of ice cream after Ravens wins