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Brant Boyer continues to validate his Jets staying power with special team’s success


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Brant Boyer continues to validate his Jets staying power with special team’s success

By Mark Cannizzaro

October 18, 2022 | 7:53pm

The well-worn practice dates back to when leather helmets were a part of the game-day garb in the NFL: Head coaches hire their own guys as assistants, coaches with whom they’ve worked before and are familiar.

How then, do you explain Brant Boyer’s existence as the Jets special teams coach, a run that’s in a seventh year under a third head coach in Robert Saleh? Because Boyer’s good at what he does.

Life moves fast for all of us. For NFL coaches, it sometimes moves at warp speed, where success is so fleeting that job security is virtually nonexistent.

When Saleh was hired last year and was assembling his staff, he surrounded himself with coaches he’d worked with at previous jobs.

Familiar faces.

Boyer was not a familiar face to Saleh, who’d not only never worked with him but never even met him.

Saleh said he had “a couple guys in mind” to hire as his special teams coordinator, but the more he researched the situation the more he kept coming back to Boyer, who was hired by Todd Bowles in 2016 and retained by Adam Gase when he was hired to replace the fired Bowles in 2019. Then Saleh, who like Gase had no prior relationship or connection to Boyer, retained him.

Assistant coaches surviving head-coaching changes is not commonplace in the NFL.

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Special teams coordinator Brant Boyer gets a hug from Solomon Thomas. Getty Images

Boyer’s body of work backs up Saleh’s decision to keep him. Entering Sunday’s game against the Broncos in Denver, the Jets special teams units are ranked No. 2 in the NFL according to Football Outsiders DVAO metrics. Even in a 4-13 season in 2021, Saleh’s first with the Jets, Boyer’s special teams ranked second.

Based on the recent performance of the special teams, which have produced game-changing plays in the past two weeks, Saleh is delighted he retained the gruff, old-school Boyer, a 51-year-old former sixth-round NFL draft pick who played 10 seasons for three different teams.

In the Jets’ win over the Dolphins two weeks ago, a 48-yard punt from Braden Mann pinned the Dolphins back at their own 8-yard line and led directly to a safety.

In the Jets’ win over the Packers on Sunday, Quinnen Williams blocked a 47-yard Mason Crosby field-goal attempt on the first play of the second quarter in what was then a scoreless game. In the third quarter, Jets rookie defensive lineman Michael Clemons blocked a Green Bay punt that was recovered by Will Parks and returned for a touchdown and a 17-3 Jets lead.

Impact special teams plays making a difference.

On the blocked punt, Parks had seen a weakness in the Packers protection on a previous punt and brought it to Boyer’s attention on the sideline. Boyer then drew a new play up for the next punt, which Clemons blocked and Parks scooped and scored on what was the biggest play of the game.

“It’s a testament to coach Boyer for seeing that, to Parks for communicating that and to the whole team being able to take something drawn up in the dirt on the sideline and immediately put it to use and get a touchdown off a blocked punt,” Jets kick returner Braxton Berrios said. “It was pretty awesome.”

Pretty awesome describes some of the reviews Saleh was getting from people about Boyer last year when he was hiring his staff.

“There were a couple guys I had in mind and everybody I talked to was telling me to, ‘Keep the guy you have,’ ” Saleh said. “The other thing was a lot of people [other teams] were calling us with requests to interview him. So, I turned on the tape and just looked at the special teams units and it just made sense.”

Former Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, regarded by many as perhaps best ever to work his craft, drafted Boyer out of the University of Arizona in 1994 when he was an assistant coach with the Dolphins and has watched Boyer’s career blossom from journeyman player to valued coach.

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Jets safety Will Parks recovers a blocked punt to return for a 20-yard touchdown against the Packers. AP

“To me, he was an easy choice [for Saleh], because he knows how to do it,” Westhoff told The Post Tuesday. “He’s got a good relationship with the guys and he’s got a lot of that from being a player and working his way up the system. He understands the role.”

“He does a great job relating to his players, putting in the work, finding angles to get those guys the best chance to be successful,” Saleh said.

“He’s a tremendous coach,” Berrios said. “That’s the only reason he’s quote-unquote ‘survived’ all these regimes. He makes everything very clear and easy to comprehend and understand and easy to execute on game day. … We love playing for a guy like that. We respect him like no other.”

So, too, have Jets head coach after head coach after head coach the past seven years.

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Jets exploit ‘specific thing that we saw’ for blocked punt against Packers

By Brian Costello and Mark Cannizzaro

October 17, 2022 | 1:12am

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A few Jets players saw something on early Packers punts Sunday that they felt like they could exploit.

They were right. The Jets blocked a punt for a touchdown with 5:43 left in the third quarter after coming up with a block on the sideline in the 27-10 Jets win at Lambeau Field.

“That was a specific thing that we saw today, during the game. That was an adjustment,” said Will Parks, who scored the touchdown. “I came up to [special teams coordinator Brant Boyer] and I said something and he dialed up that play.”

Rookie Micheal Clemons broke through the line and blocked the Pat O’Donnell punt. Parks scooped it up at the 20 and raced into the end zone. The score gave the Jets a 17-3 lead and gave them control of the game.

“That play was so big,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “It turned it into a two-score game and just allowed us to let loose up front.”

It was the first blocked punt the Jets have returned for a touchdown since 2019 when they did it against the Ravens. The Jets also blocked a field goal Sunday.

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Jets safety Will Parks recovers a blocked punt during the Jets’ win over the Packers.AP

Jets QB Zach Wilson grew up idolizing Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. The two shared a moment after the game.

“It’s crazy for me, right, because this guy’s been my idol since I was 8 years old and started watching football,” Wilson said. “He was the quarterback I copied everything, tried to be just like him. As ugly of a game as that was, I think he’s a great guy. He’s someone I’ve studied, even through the NFL, someone I try to be like. Sharing that moment after the game was really cool, just telling him, ‘good job.’ I’d love to sit there and chat with him all day.”

Wilson did not have a prolific day. He only threw for 110 yards on 10 of 18 passing. The Jets leaned on defense and the running game to win.

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Zach Wilson, left, and Aaron Rodgers embrace after the game. Getty iImages

“We’ve got to be able to throw the ball better,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be tough sometimes. Teams are going to hunker down and you try to run the ball and they’re going to stop us. We’ve got to be two-dimensional, be able to throw the ball and run the ball.”

The Jets bench was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct in the first quarter that gave the Packers a first down after they were stopped on third down. Saleh said an assistant coach got in the way of an official on the sideline and that drew the penalty.?

CB Sauce Gardner had two passes defensed. He has had one in each of his first six games, joining Desmond Trufant as the only players since 2000 with a pass defensed in each of their first six career games. Trufant did it in 2013.

The Jets had no turnovers. This is the first time they went consecutive games without a turnover since Weeks 15 and 16 of the 2020 season.

Hero

Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams played perhaps the best game of his career. He could not be stopped, finishing with two sacks, a forced fumble, three quarterbacks hits, two tackles for losses and a blocked field goal. He was a force.

Zero

Aaron Jones, the Packers’ top running back, was invisible, rushing for just 19 yards on nine carries and catching three passes for 25 yards with one of several dropped passes by the Packers. With the Packers short on receivers, they needed more from their top back.

Unsung hero

Running back Breece Hall continues to make a case for himself as Offensive Rookie of the Year. He finished with 116 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. His 34-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter gave the Jets a 24-10 lead and essentially sealed the game for them.

Key stat

9.1 percent: The Jets somehow won the game while converting just 1 of 11 third-down conversions.

Quote of the day

“We’ve got to start expecting stuff like this.’’

— Jets head coach Robert Saleh on the win.

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7 hours ago, Hex said:

Special teams was really the only thing that didn't seem to go wrong last season, and they've been even better this season. Boyer has done an amazing job over the years.

Westhoff was very upset under the Tanny era because we stopped drafting depth players and used those picks to trade for skill positions. He would complain that he didn't have enough high motor young players for the ST group. For the past three years, JD has been drafting these players. We are at a point where other teams are grabbing our depth. Boyer has done a great job, but then again so has JD.

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49 minutes ago, bostonmajet said:

Westhoff was very upset under the Tanny era because we stopped drafting depth players and used those picks to trade for skill positions. He would complain that he didn't have enough high motor young players for the ST group. For the past three years, JD has been drafting these players. We are at a point where other teams are grabbing our depth. Boyer has done a great job, but then again so has JD.

We've been very fortunate in special teams coaching to go from Westhoff to Boyer after a few year hiccup. At least we have that.

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9 hours ago, Hex said:

Special teams was really the only thing that didn't seem to go wrong last season, and they've been even better this season. Boyer has done an amazing job over the years.

He helped Berrios be an All Pro.   His teams are setting up returns and blocking kicks this year.

That's what he can do.  If you have a crap FG kicker, you can help, but you can't make him into the Ravens kicker

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