A look at what's going on around and inside the New York Jets:
1. Chuck and run for cover: MetLife Stadium might not be a safe place Sunday for quarterbacks Geno Smith and Matthew Stafford. Not only do the Jets and Detroit Lions possess two of the best defensive lines in the NFL, but they also have -- how can we say this kindly? -- two of the nastiest defenses. Or let's try it this way: They have been known to run afoul of the rules on occasion.
Over the past five seasons, the Jets rank second in roughing-the-passer penalties (17), behind the Houston Texans (20), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Lions (16) are tied for third with the Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams. In fact, the Lions have the most defensive penalties since 2010. They are led by Ndamukong Suh, who has accumulated more than $170,000 in fines and once received a two-game suspension for kicking an opposing player. In 2013, Suh was voted the dirtiest player in the league in a player survey conducted by the Sporting News.
This season, three Jets defenders -- Muhammad Wilkerson, Calvin Pace and Sheldon Richardson -- have combined for more than $44,000 in fines. The most penalized player, though, is guard Willie Colon, who has 16 penalties in his past 19 games. Colon plays angry. Asked to describe his demeanor, Colon said, "Docile, calm and collected." He tried, but he couldn't keep a straight face.
2. A free-agent concern: When it comes to contract situations, the spotlight has focused on Wilkerson, but what about David Harris? He should be the most pressing concern because, unlike Wilkerson, he will be a free agent after the season.
The veteran middle linebacker is the longest-tenured player on defense, the glue to the unit. Rex Ryan has called him the most underrated player in the league. The Jets have paid him handsomely -- he will receive every penny of an expiring $36 million deal he signed in 2011 -- but will they be generous this time around? He will be 31 in January, and we know GM John Idzik doesn't like to throw big money at players on the wrong side of 30. The sides haven't had any substantive talks. Harris still is playing at a high level and it would be a crushing blow to lose him.
3. Marty's mea culpas: I think Marty Mornhinweg is a good offensive coordinator, but he's in a two-game slump. After losing to the Green Bay Packers, he took the blame for the timeout fiasco. After losing to the Chicago Bears, he shouldered blame for "putting too much on (Smith's) plate," as he put it. It's not a good sign when you're OC is apologizing after every game.
4. Revolving door: One of the hallmarks of a Mornhinweg game plan is the ever-changing personnel. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden and play-by-play man Mike Tirico took note of it during the Monday night telecast, wondering if too much substituting hurts the flow of the offense. It's a fair point.
A review of the game tape confirmed that Mornhinweg used a different lineup (running backs, tight ends and wide receivers) for each of the first 12 plays. It wasn't until the 13th play that the same combination of five players was on the field for a second time -- Chris Ivory, Jeff Cumberland, Eric Decker, David Nelson and Jeremy Kerley. In that span, he employed seven different personnel groupings. The most popular grouping (five plays) was "11" personnel -- 1 RB/1 TE/3 WR.
The upside is that it can confuse the opponent and create favorable matchups. The downside is that it involved a lot of moving parts and can prevent your own players from getting into a rhythm. The Jets have scored only 20 first-quarter points, including 14 against the Packers. In 2013, they managed only 44 points in the first quarter. The record isn't good, but at least they're getting better.
5. Boomer and Keyshawn: Last week's war of words between Boomer Esiason and Keyshawn Johnson was amusing. I agree with Esiason in one respect: Johnson never should have called Wayne Chrebet a "mascot" in his book. Of course, that's ancient history. At the same time, Johnson didn't deserve this from Esiason: "You take Wayne Chrebet’s heart out of him and put it into Keyshawn Johnson, you got Jerry Rice." A receiver doesn't last 11 years, racking up more than 10,000 yards, if he doesn't have heart. It's too bad Johnson and Esiason missed each other by a year with the Jets; that would have been a fun locker room to cover.
6. Keyshawn and Chrebet: They were two of the most fascinating players I've covered. Their lockers were side by side (Bill Parcells' idea), but it was like there was an invisible shield between them because they never spoke. Johnson and Chrebet had no relationship off the field -- none. They would talk about the other during interviews while the other was standing three feet away. It was weird. But I'll say this: They co-existed on the field and they always blocked for each other. They were great together in '98 and '99. Congrats to Chrebet on being selected to the Jets' Ring of Honor.
7. Geno under seige: No quarterback has been blitzed more over the past two seasons than Smith, who has been blitzed on 39.5 percent of his dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That will continue until the Jets put a player on the perimeter that frightens defenses.
8. Nobody asked me, but ...: Ellis Lankster is tied for the team lead in special-teams tackles (in only two games), but he was cut last week for the second time. That's fishy.
9. Injury-prone Milliner: There were a lot of questions about Dee Milliner's medical history when he was drafted last year (he had five surgeries at Alabama), but Idzik insisted on draft day it wasn't a concern. "He just does not miss practice. He does not miss games," Idzik said at the time. "That was really important to us. In short, we’re comfortable with his medical." On Sunday, Milliner will miss the sixth game of his career -- six out of 20. Frustration in the organization is mounting.
10. Mad Man: Ivory's fast start could be attributed to an intense offseason training program. He worked harder than ever, earning praise from the coaches. Said Ryan: "He approached the offseason like a mad man." He was always tough to tackle. Now? He's fourth in the league with 124 yards after contact, per ESPN Stats. Here is a wild stat: His YAC total is greater than Chris Johnson's rushing total (123).