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Black ex-coaches say NFL's Rooney Rule is broken

Black ex-coaches say NFL's Rooney Rule is broken

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Three black former NFL head coaches say the league needs to rethink its Rooney Rule for promoting minority hiring after 15 top vacancies - eight head coaching jobs and seven general manager positions - were all filled by white candidates since the regular season ended a month ago.

``I know the concept is good and something we need to do,'' said Tony Dungy, who was with the Indianapolis Colts during the 2006 season when he became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. ``Obviously, it's not working the way it should.''

The Rooney Rule, implemented in 2003, was named for Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who steadfastly pushed the league to require every team to interview at least one minority candidate every time there is a coaching or general manager opening.

Before the rule went into effect, the NFL had had only six minority head coaches in more than 80 years. Since it has been in place, 12 have been hired.

But none were hired this year to replace the two black coaches who were fired - Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Lovie Smith in Chicago - and the one fired black GM, Rod Graves in Arizona.

Herm Edwards, former coach of the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs and now an ESPN analyst, has called for not only revising the rule but perhaps even changing its name.

``When you use the Rooney Rule and not correctly, you put a little bit of a bad mark on Mr. Rooney's name, and that is not good,'' Edwards said Wednesday. ``If it keeps going this way, we might need to take his name off the rule. It is not being used in the right manner that Mr. Rooney meant it to be.''

Robert Gulliver, the NFL's executive vice president of human resources, said that the hiring results were ``disappointing'' and that he expects to make revisions in the rule.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group of minority coaches and front-office, scouting and game-day NFL officials, wants the Rooney Rule expanded to apply to coordinators, assistant head coaches and club president positions.

Unlike Dungy and Edwards, Jim Caldwell is still coaching, albeit as an assistant. Not only that, his team, the Baltimore Ravens, will play the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's Super Bowl. But he wasn't even invited to interview for one of the eight vacant coaching jobs, though having a team in the playoffs can be a hindrance to such opportunities.

Fired as the Colts' coach following the 2011 season, Caldwell joined the Ravens as quarterbacks coach. When head coach John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in December, Caldwell was promoted. With his guidance, Baltimore's offense responded.

Caldwell is no stranger to the Super Bowl, having led the Colts there three years ago after replacing the retired Dungy. It was only after Peyton Manning was sidelined for the 2011 season that Caldwell was fired.

``It has been a great rule and it has worked in the past,'' he said. ``Just like anything else, you have to, after a certain period of time, revisit it and take a look and see if it needs a little tweaking. I think it does in this particular case.''

Caldwell added: ``That's one of the reasons that the Rooney Rule was put in place, because you're trying to avoid those situations, if possible. We're at that stage where guys like Lovie Smith, who didn't get an opportunity, who had won and been very successful previously ... obviously, there's some concern there, and that's why I think the rule is going to be revisited.''

Dungy said he believes the entire system is broken. He cited 21 head coaching jobs changing in a three-year span, which he said indicates owners are making the wrong hires regardless of race.

Edwards said he wonders whether minority candidates get interviewed only to satisfy the rule, even though they have no chance of getting the job. He and Dungy noted that the last black head coach hiring - other than coaches promoted from within, like Leslie Frazier, Raheem Morris, Mike Singletary, Hue Jackson and Crennel - was Mike Tomlin by Pittsburgh, in 2007.

There are currently four minority head coaches: Tomlin, Frazier in Minnesota, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Ron Rivera in Carolina. Minority general managers include Baltimore's Ozzie Newsome, Detroit's Martin Mayhew, Houston's Rick Smith, the New York Giants' Jerry Reese and Oakland's Reggie McKenzie.

``I am not saying you have to hire a minority candidate. No one is saying that,'' Edwards said. ``I am saying you can't be blinded. It can't be, `Who is the guy to interview to get this out of the way?'''

``The problem I have is you don't really abide by the Rooney Rule the correct way,'' he said.

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As Ravens get closer to playoffs, confidence among one another is apparent

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As Ravens get closer to playoffs, confidence among one another is apparent

Most NFL teams would fear putting their season in the hands of two rookies, but quarterback Lamar Jackson and undrafted free agent Gus Edwards have taken the Baltimore Ravens' confidence to a new level.

You can feel the effects on both sides of the ball as the offense and defense have been working cohesively since their Week 10 bye. Jackson and the offense have dominated time of possession over those four weeks, which in hand allows the defense to have fresh legs each time they take the field as they remain the No.1 total defense in the league.

With two games to go and the postseason in sight, the respect among teammates is apparent.

"We appreciate it so much, the way our offense is playing," linebacker C.J. Mosley said following the team's 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "It's keeping their offense off the field. It allows us to take care of our business, get us rest when we need it, and that is huge."

Heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday's win, Jackson had already hit 100 yards rushing on 13 carries and kept his offense on the field for 37:10 compared to the Buccaneers' 22:50. Plus with the help of Edwards' 104 rushing yards on 19 attempts, the Ravens have rushed for at least 190 yards in five-consecutive games. The last team to do this was the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Then there is the defense. In eight of their 14 games in 2018, the Ravens have held their opponent to under 300 yards, and on Sunday held the Bucs to a season low 241 total yards and 156 net passing yards. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had his first interception of the year and a career-high four passes defended while dealing with a groin injury in a standout performance.

"We're playing great team football right now to a T," safety Eric Weddle added. "We're playing well off each other— running the ball, controlling the clock, third-down conversions. We just know, as a defense, we just need to continue playing at a high level to give our offense more opportunities. Who knows what's going to happen."

Total team effort has put the Ravens in control of the sixth and final AFC playoff spot and half a game back of the Steelers for the AFC North. As they head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 16 and then back to Baltimore to face the dynamic Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, it appears the offense and defense have together found what works for them in a style of play that pundits deemed unattainable just weeks ago. 

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Lamar Jackson validates John Harbaugh's decision to pick him as starting QB

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Lamar Jackson validates John Harbaugh's decision to pick him as starting QB

Joe Flacco was ready if needed. 

When Ravens head coach John Harbaugh made the decision to stick with rookie Lamar Jackson as the team’s starter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it all but signaled the end of the Flacco era in Baltimore. 

But a game still needed to be played. And the questioned remained that in a must-win game for Baltimore to maintain its playoff position, would Harbaugh be tempted to call on his veteran if Jackson were to struggle. 

Despite a slow start on a rainy afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium, Jackson delivered yet again, improving his record to 4-1 as a starter as the Ravens defeated the Bucs 20-12.

In many ways, the win validated Harbaugh’s decision to stick with the rookie. With Indianapolis and Tennessee both winning on Sunday, there was little room for error for the Ravens in their close fight for a playoff spot.

Jackson once again was electrifying on the ground, rushing for 95 yards on 18 carries, while throwing for 131 yards and one touchdown.

A loss, however, would’ve opened the door for second-guessing as to whether Flacco, with years of playoff experience, should’ve gotten the call. 

The win not only got the Ravens one step closer to clinching a playoff berth, but solidified Jackson’s place as the team’s unquestioned starter. Flacco will be ready if needed against what should be a tougher battle against the Chargers next week, but it’s clear who the Ravens are sticking with down the stretch. 

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