Westhoff passes torch to assistant Kotwica

After 11 seasons in the Big Apple, special teams extraordinaire Mike Westhoff is making a move from the sidelines to the broadcast booth. Now long-time assistant Ben Kotwica is embracing his chance to direct New York's special teams unit and make his mark in the NFL

On Tuesday the New York Jets newly hired special team coordinator Ben Kotwica sat down for a conference call with reporters to answer questions regarding the upcoming NFL season.

This unit was uncharacteristically inconsistent unit last year, led by long-time coordinator Mike Westhoff. The Jets rounded out the 2012 campaign ranked fourth in kick return yards with 1,308 and sixth in the league with 26.2 yards per kick return.

The Jets did not see the same success from their punt return unit. They were 28th in the NFL in punt return yards with a low 238 yards. Gang Green's 10.3 yards per punt return ranked them 12th in all of football.

Running back Joe McKnight was the primary return man, but the Jets had to rotate some players due to injuries and turnovers.

"I think that we did some good things last year and much like other teams, there were areas we have to work in," Kotwica explained, "We were able to lead the NFL in starting position after a kick and still had a good return game."

Kotwica took over the special teams unit after Mike Westhoff retired following the 2012 season. Kotwica has been Westhoff's long time assistant and is a military veteran. Westhoff was known as one of the best special team coaches in the league, and the Jets hope his successor can continue the genius play-calling.

"Not only has he been a great mentor but our relationship is built on trust and communication, that's a good friend there," said Kotwica of Westhoff's legacy in New York. "We are different people; I don't think there is going to be a comparison there. Obviously, there are going to be a foundation of things we do here built on things that we set down the past. I am very thankful because he mentored me and we look forward to moving forward in 2013."

The organization has yet to decide whether they will keep kicker Nick Folk. His accuracy and power have been questioned in the past, but he has been clutch in high pressure situations. During the 2010 playoffs, Folk made a 32 yard field as time expired to defeat the Indianapolis Colts. In 2011, Folk nailed a 50 yard field goal to help Gang Green finish their comeback after trailing by two touchdowns to the Dallas Cowboys.

Folk kicked off the 2012 campaign strong, but fell into a slump towards the end of the season. He finished the year converting 21 of 27 field goals for a 77.8 percentage. The Jets will most likely weigh their options to see if they should keep Folk or pursue a younger kicker through free agency or the draft.

"The time that Nick and I spent together has been very rewarding." Kotwica added on his relationship with New York's placekicker. "I don't know how things are going to shake out in the future and we are going to have to see how all that lays to rest in the next few weeks and months."

Kotwica hopes to continue the success that Westhoff built. The team has confidence in him moving forward towards the 2013 season.

"I am very fortunate to have the opportunity I have here, Rex and John have placed their trust in me," admitted Kotwica.


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