Florham Park N.J. - Special teams have been far from special for the New York Jets ever since Mike Westhoff retired following the 2012 season. Since then, the Jets have struggled to find a replacement for the special teams guru falling towards the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category. Four coaches in as many seasons were hired and subsequently bolted New York leaving an inconsistent unit with plenty of question marks. But, the Jets front office hopes they finally found their man in Brant Boyer.
Boyer enters his fifth season coaching in the NFL but his resume does not stop there. In 2012, Boyer was named assistant special teams coach for the Indianapolis Colts, a job he held until the Jets hired him in February 2016. He also held jobs with the Cleveland Browns in 2009 and New York Giants in 2010.
As a player, Boyer was an effective linebacker and standout on special teams compiling 250 tackles, 13 sacks and six interceptions in 129 total games for the Miami Dolphins (1994), Jacksonville Jaguars (1995-2000) and Cleveland Browns (2001-2003). Leadership and energy is in Boyer's blood as he also was a special teams captain for Jacksonville and Cleveland during his tenure.
With the Cleveland Browns, Boyer was a member of the defense while Todd Bowles coached the defensive backs. Clearly, Boyer made an impact on Bowles and vice versa.
"[Bowles] was one of the smartest coaches I've ever played for," Boyer told the media during OTAs. "I always had a great relationship with him."
The Jets have had four special teams coordinators in four seasons. Westhoff's heir to the throne Ben Kotwica coached one mediocre season with New York, as did Thomas McGaughey in 2014 and the Jets most recent coordinator, Bobby April. The unit has been in a steady decline since Westhoff left and last season hit rock bottom allowing a league-high 24 points via special teams. Rick Gosselin's special teams rankings in The Dallas Morning News ranked the Jets second-to-last in the NFL in 2015.
Boyer has his hands full to recapture respectability but he has reliable "energizer bunnies" in safety Rontez Miles, and linebackers Erin Henderson and Trevor Reilly. He wants those three players in particular to take a more leadership role on the special teams unit and help the rookies get situated and comfortable with the system. Throughout OTAs, Miles, Henderson, and Reilly were vocal on and off the field - something that Boyer and Bowles loved to see.
"That's part of being an established veteran," Boyer said about the energizer bunnies. "Going out there and grabbing a young kid by the back of the neck and saying 'that's not how we practice, that's not how we play, and here's how we do it.'"
As far as Boyer's coaching style, it is full speed ahead. Part of his philosophy is playing "500 mph all the time." With that said, Boyer preaches for smart decisions and to not beat yourself with self-inflicting wounds. Their primary focus is the drive chart and where the Jets offense and defense start on the field.
"We are going to play snap to whistle," said Boyer. "We're going to punch first. That's how I always appreciated being coached."
The Jets have not had this much bravado and confidence for their special teams unit since Mike Westhoff was in charge. Four years later, they may have finally found their man with a plan.
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)null