This is one in a series of articles that will also appear in the New York Jets 2022 Yearbook, which will be published later this summer.
The coronavirus made for a rugged 2021 season for the NFL and especially for its special teams. Mix in a rash of injuries and it all could have really crushed the youthful exuberance of a team like, say, the Jets.
Nevertheless, Brant Boyer, the Jets' special teams coordinator since 2016, did one of his best coaching jobs in the pros. And when the season was over, Boyer, not one to toot his own horn, referred only to his pride in his players' collective job well done.
"They battled and battled, and they didn't blink when all this stuff was going on," Boyer said. "It's hard as hell, especially in your rookie year, your body is hurting all the time, mentally you're worn out, and to have me just getting after you at times. I think this group bought in and did a great job.
"It's one of the prouder times that I've had since I've been here."
There are different ways to measure special teams performance, with the rankings of SI.com's Rick Gosselin being the gold standard for decades. Those rankings pegged Boyer's Jets first in the league in 2018, then dropped them to eighth and 26th the next two seasons. But last year, despite the adversity, the Green & White returned to the league's top half at 13th.
Boyer is a consistent, positive coach and a tireless salesman for the joys and benefits of special teams. Yet he admitted to some inconsistency in his approach early last season: He didn't bellow on the field as much.
"We have a really young group, where last year I had a veteran group that, in my opinion, should have know better," he said. "When they've been here a couple of years, I don't have as much patience as I do when the guys haven't been here. You try to bring them along in baby steps, so to speak, and that's what we're trying to do."
These Jets are taking longer strides into 2022. They're a year older, wiser and better. However the special teams roster shakes out this year, we suspect Boyer and his assistants, Michael Ghobrial and Leon Washington, will coach them hard before and during the season and exude pride again at the end of it.