Maurice Jones-Drew was right. He was better than I had him ranked on my list of the top-100 NFL players.
Jones-Drew took offense to me having him ranked fifth among NFL running backs when the list came out last spring. He was 37th overall. So I asked him where he'd rank himself among the backs.
"First," he said.
Right now, it's hard to argue that. Jones-Drew won the NFL rushing title Sunday, the first of his career, but the amazing thing is that he did without any help from the passing game. The Jaguars were last in the NFL in passing yards and Jones-Drew often had to do it against 8-man fronts.
Jones-Drew ran for 1,606 yards to win the rushing title. He ran for 169 yards against the Colts to win the title Sunday. Jones-Drew represented 44.7-percnet of the Jaguars offense this season.
That's way too much.
He needs help. Can you imagine what he could do if the Jaguars actually had a passing game? They will spend in free agency to fix that side of the ball, getting a couple of receivers likely and then also find a coach who isn't run-centric.
Jones-Drew might not be as big a part of the offense going forward, but that wouldn't be a bad thing, He's getting far too many carries and taking far too many hits.
But, for now, it's hard to argue with his choice of where he should be in the NFL pecking order of backs.
There was nobody better in 2011.
---Matt Flynn is a player a quarterback-needy team should sign, with one caveat. It has to be a West Coast team. Flynn looked fantastic against the Lions Sunday, throwing six touchdown passes. He also threw for 480 yards. Flynn looked a lot like Aaron Rodgers with his ball-fakes and mannerisms. The difference is arm strength. He doesn't have a big arm, so the West Coast offense is what would work for him. He's a free agent who will get paid. Smart and accuracy are his strong points.
---I've said all along that the Lions pass defense wasn't good enough, that the corners and secondary would be their undoing. In the second half of the season, that defense has been horrible. Can you imagine how excited Drew Brees is to face them again?
---The more and more I hear is that former Titans coach Jeff Fisher will be the Rams coach now that Steve Spagnuolo is fired. Fisher has ties to the Rams and is close with several people in the organization.
----Name to consider in some spots is Jim Haslett, Redskins defensive coordinator. He will get a sniff for some of the head-coaching spots. And he should.
---I love the idea that Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is this secret candidate in Jacksonville. That's been known for a while -- even mentioned in several spots here. General manager Gene Smith really likes DeCamillis.
---Where are all the good, young offensive coordinators? That's the trouble with trying to find a coach this season. That's why Bengals coordinator Jay Gruden will get a shot, even though he's in his first season running the Cincinnati offense.
---The Patriots tight ends are sensational. Rob Gronkowski had the best season ever for a tight end. But the Patriots have to get more from their outside passing game come playoff time. The field shrinks and teams will double Gronkowski.
----The Jets need to upgrade at outside linebacker and safety. You can have the great corners, but if you can't cover on the back end and combine it with an inability to get tot the passer, you will have trouble on defense. Eric Smith is bad in the back end and the Jets don't have a reliable outside rusher in their 3-4 defense.
---The more I watch the Saints offense, the more I am convinced they made a bad move to trade into the first round to draft running back Mark Ingram last year. He's out with a toe injury, and they don't miss him at all. A grinder back isn't nearly as valuable in the Saints offense as he is in other offenses. Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles are perfect for what the Saints do. They should have used that pick on a defensive player if they were going to make the move.
---The Tim Tebow chatter sure has quieted down. That's because he's not winning. It's because he's turning the ball over and it's because he can't pass the football. I stuck to my evaluation on him when everybody else was caving. So who was right? Is Tebow the long-term answer? Not a chance. It's sad almost to watch him play quarterback. Playoffs or not, the Broncos have to know they need to get a franchise passer.
---I spent a five days with the Rams last summer, with the idea they were a team on the rise. Oops. They had far too many injuries this season and the early schedule was brutal. But with Sam Bradford and the second pick in the draft next spring, they have a nice foundation in place. There is a good group of core players there. That makes it an attractive job.
---The Jets had two pass plays of 40 yards or more this season from Mark Sanchez. How did those moves to add old-and-slow receivers Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason work out? Mason is working in television now, if that tells you anything.