Brant Boyer returns for his fifth season as the special teams coordinator of the New York Jets. In his four seasons guiding the Jets special teams, Boyer has transformed a unit considered by multiple metrics as one of the bottom third in the league to a top five unit in each of the last two seasons, according to FootballOutsiders.com, which compiles the numbers in five key elements of special teams.
Brant Boyer returns for his fifth season as the special teams coordinator of the New York Jets. In his four seasons guiding the Jets special teams, Boyer has transformed a unit considered by multiple metrics as one of the bottom third in the league to a top five unit in each of the last two seasons, according to FootballOutsiders.com, which compiles the numbers in five key elements of special teams. Change has been a constant for Boyer, as the Jets have had a different primary player at kick returner, punt returner and kicker, as well as a different leading special teams tackler in each of his four seasons as coordinator. Despite the change, his unit has committed just 61 penalties, tied for the fourth fewest of any team in the league, while also posting top 10 rankings in total touchdowns (five), blocked punts (two), forced fumbles (three), kickoff return average (22.9) and kickoff return average against (21.3). His group is also one of just two in the league with an interception.
Last season, Boyer's group finished fourth in the league in special teams DVOA according to FootballOutsiders.com, their second consecutive season in the top five, despite new primary players at kicker (Sam Ficken), punt returner (Braxton Berrios) and kick returner (Ty Montgomery & Vyncint Smith). Overall, the group ranked in the top five in coverage touchdowns (two), punt return average (11.4), kickoff return average against (19.3) and fumble recoveries (two).
Ficken, who kicked in three games over two seasons prior to 2019, posted career highs in every category, as he increased his field goal percentage from the previous season. Ficken also connected on a 44-yard game-winning kick, one of three game-winning/tying kicks in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter in Boyer's tenure – one of just three teams to connect on 100% of their three+ attempts. Berrios, a second-year player who missed his entire rookie season with injury before being claimed prior to the start of the regular season, finished second in the league in punt return average (11.4). The Jets, who averaged a league-low 6.8 yards per punt return from 2013-17 have now finished first and second in the league the last two seasons, as Boyer narrowly missed becoming the first coach to have two different returns lead the league in punt returns in consecutive seasons since the merger.
Boyer's special teams unit also saw a new leading tackler, as second-year undrafted free agent Frankie Luvu became the club's fourth different top tackler under him. Lachlan Edwards improved his net punting average for the fourth-consecutive season under Boyer, while the fourth-year punter again set a franchise record (41.6) and now holds the top three seasons in net punting average in franchise history. Additionally, in his four years under Boyer, Edwards had placed 108 punts inside the 20-yard line, the seventh most in the league during that span.
In 2018, in addition to their number one ranking from both FootballOutsiders.com and Rick Gosselin, Boyer's group finished in the top five league-wide in kickoff return average (third; 26.9), punt return average (first; 13.0) and field goal percentage (fourth; 91.7%). The unit also blocked three kicks — a punt, a field goal and an extra point — one of just three teams with at least three blocked kicks and one of just two with a block of all three.
Among the many superlatives by the Jets special teams unit in 2018 were kicker Jason Myers earning a Pro Bowl selection after tying Nick Folk's field goal percentage franchise record, connecting on 33-of-36 field goals (91.7%) and finishing with the second-most made field goals and tying for the second-most points for a single season in franchise history. Additionally, Myers made all five of his attempts of 55+ yards last season, the most in a single year in NFL history, and now accounts for five of the 11 made fieldgoals from 55+ yards in Jets history. Myers also became one of just eight players in league history with a seven-field-goal game after connecting on all seven attempts for 24 total points (second-most kicking points in a game in league history) vs. Indianapolis (10/14/18).
Wide receiver/return specialist Andre Roberts, who was named a first-team All Pro and selected to his first Pro Bowl in nine NFL seasons, led the league in punt return average (14.1) and finished second in kickoff return average (29.4) last season, one of just 12 qualifying players to finish in the top three in both in the same season since 1970. Additionally, Roberts registered 10 returns (three punt, seven kickoff) of 40+ yards in 2018, two of which accounted for touchdowns — a 78-yard punt return at Detroit (09/10/18) and a 99-yard kickoff return vs. Green Bay (12/23/18). For Roberts, the 10 returns of 40+ yards make him one of just five players to accomplish the feat since 2000.
Punter Lachlan Edwards, in his third season under Boyer, posted another franchise record in net punting average (40.8) last season. Long snapper Thomas Hennessy, an undrafted free agent acquired in 2017 just before the regular season, has snapped in every game for the Jets since joining the team, posting 16 tackles (11 in 2018) and a forced fumble on coverage while not allowing a blocked field goal, extra point or punt in his career. Running back Trenton Cannon, the 2018 sixth-round draft pick who was in competition with Roberts for the primary return job during preseason, remained a key special teams contributor, leading the team with 16 special teams tackles and finishing with the most special teams tackles in franchise history by a running back (since 2000; according to radar360).
In 2017, Boyer oversaw the first career year from Edwards, as the punter increased every statistic from his rookie season. Edwards, who established franchise records with 46.6 gross and 40.5 net punt averages, ranked third in the league with 33 punts inside the 20-yard line, the second most in Jets history.
Additionally, kicker Chandler Catanzaro, a 2017 acquisition by the Jets, improved on his field goal percentage from 75% in 2016 to 83.3%, as well as connecting on 100% of his extra point attempts, the first time he had done so since his rookie season. Catanzaro also connected on a 57-yard field goal, the longest in team history, and set a franchise record with a 66.2% touchback rate.
Among Boyer's coverage units, the Jets allowed just 20.0 yards per kickoff return in 2017, the eighth lowest average in the league. Safety Rontez Miles led the NFL with 15 solo special teams tackles (according to radar360).
In his first season (2016), kicker Nick Folk connected on 87.1% of his field goal attempts, tied for the sixth best in the league that season and the fourth highest mark in team history. Additionally, Edwards matched a team rookie record with 75 punts.
Boyer joined the Jets after a four-year tenure in Indianapolis (2012-15), where he aided a Colts special teams unit that ranked in the top 10 league-wide during that span in net punting average (third), kickoff return average (fourth), kickoff touchbacks (fourth) and field goal percentage (seventh), despite using three different players as primary punt returners and four different kick returners in his four seasons.
During the 2015 season, the Indianapolis special teams unit established an NFL record with just 156 kickoff return yards allowed for the season, besting the previous mark of 254 set by Denver in 1992.
In 2014, both punter Pat McAfee and kicker Adam Vinatieri received Associated Press First-Team NFL All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors under Boyer as McAfee converted a career-high three onside kicks and set single-season franchise records for punts pinned inside the 20-yard line (30), net punting average (42.8) and kickoff touchbacks (70), while Vinatieri made 30 of 31 field goals and also converted 35 consecutive attempts, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.
In 2013, Boyer coached Matt Overton to his first career Pro Bowl selection, one year after discovering the long snapper at a specialists combine in Arizona and bringing him to Indianapolis for a workout prior to his signing in April 2012. Prior to joining the Colts, Boyer was twice a training camp intern, first for the Cleveland Browns (2009) and later for the New York Giants (2010).
Before entering the coaching ranks, Boyer played linebacker and was a standout on special teams for the Miami Dolphins (1994), Jacksonville Jaguars (1995-2000) and Cleveland Browns (2001-03). He served as a special teams captain for both the Jaguars and Browns and led Cleveland in tackles in 2002 and 2003. Boyer was a two-time member of USA Today's All-Joe Team, once as a linebacker and once as a special teams player. In 2002, his teammates selected him for the Cleveland Browns Unsung Hero Award.
Boyer played in 129 career games and totaled 250 tackles, 13.0 sacks, six interceptions, one forced fumble and 15 passes defensed. He originally entered the league as a sixth-round selection of the Miami Dolphins in the 1994 NFL Draft. Before entering the NFL, Boyer was an inside linebacker and team captain at the University of Arizona as part of the school's "Desert Swarm" defense. He led the team in tackles during his senior season, helping the Wildcats to their first 10-win season in 90 years and a victory in the 1993 Fiesta Bowl, and earned a place in the school's Ring of Honor.