Jets' special teams enduring especially bad season

Publish date:

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Mistakes and missed opportunities have cost the New York Jets plenty of times, and that has weighed heavily on Brant Boyer.

His special teams unit is struggling through an especially bad year. The Jets are ranked last in the NFL by the statistics analysis site , and that's hardly a surprise to anyone who has watched New York this season.

''It's been my toughest year in coaching, by far,'' Boyer said Wednesday. ''It really has. There's some things that happen sometimes that you would like to think that you can get done, and things like that, that don't get done.''

Boyer was hired last offseason to improve the Jets' struggling special teams unit, which finished ranked 25th under Bobby April. That cost April his job, and there are rumblings that Boyer could be one-and-done on coach Todd Bowles' staff.

Since special teams stalwart Mike Westhoff retired after 12 seasons with the team in 2012, the Jets have had four coordinators - a new one every season: Ben Kotwica (2013), Thomas McGaughey (2014), April (2015) and Boyer (2016).

''I learned a long time ago when I was playing, to be honest with you, that they can fire Peyton Manning, they can fire coaches, they can fire anybody,'' Boyer said.

''If you do it long enough in this league, you are going to get fired at some point. Do I hope that happens? Hell no, I don't. I want to stay here, I want to finish the job that I started, and hell no, I don't want to get fired. Nobody does.''

The 45-year-old Boyer was a standout special teams player from 1994-2003 during a 10-year playing career with Miami, Jacksonville and Cleveland.

He spent the past four seasons as Indianapolis' assistant special teams coach, and came to the Jets expected to inject energy and improvement into New York's ailing unit.

Instead, it has been more of the same struggles - and worse.

The Jets have experienced a little bit of everything this season, from kickoffs returned for scores to field goals blocked and extra points missed.

Last Saturday, Lachlan Edwards had his second punt of the season blocked, which Miami's Walt Aikens returned for a touchdown and served as a turning point in New York's 34-13 loss.

''Just a simple mental error,'' Boyer said. ''It's a look that has been practiced probably a thousand times since we've been here. A younger guy just made a mistake. It's my responsibility as a coach to get him ready.''

Part of the problem for Boyer, though, is he isn't always sure who he's going to be coaching. Because of injuries and roster turnover, the faces have changed often on special teams for the Jets.

''It's kind of interesting, actually,'' Boyer said. ''I actually like that part of it, because you're trying to mix and match. It's like working a puzzle or something because you're trying to fit people in areas and see what they can do in a short amount of time, and see who can handle the information and who can go out there and execute it.''

At one point during practice Wednesday, Boyer blasted his unit while saying it was something the players have been working on since training camp.

However, as one reporter pointed out, several of the players on the field at that point haven't been on the roster for more than a few weeks.

''It's tough,'' Boyer acknowledged. ''I'm not going to lie. Any coach, that's part of the profession. Guys that have been in the building, guys that have been on the practice squad, guys that were here in the spring and then came back, they've been in the system. Guys that just got here two days ago, you show them what to do, and you try to bring them along and you bring them along slowly.

''At the end of the day, can they get it done in the first week or two? You don't know. You try to do the best you can and to prepare them, and get them ready.''

The Jets' return teams have had minimal impact this season, with Jalin Marshall, Nick Marshall, Jeremy Ross and C.J. Spiller all taking turns for a unit that ranks 15th in the NFL with a 22.4-yard average.

None have shown to be game-changing returners. Meanwhile, New York's punt return unit is tied with Jacksonville for last with 5.9 yards per return.

Edwards, a rookie, ranks 30th in the league among punters with at least 30 punts with a 42.8-yard average. His 37.1 net average ranks him 33rd.

''Things just haven't (gone) our way, whether that's penalties, sometimes,'' Boyer said. ''We had an eight-game stretch where we didn't have any penalties, a six- or eight-game stretch. ... There's just some little technique errors, little penalty errors that we should know better (that) we've made this year.

''That's been very, very frustrating, to be honest with you, 100 percent.''


For more NFL coverage: and