INDIANAPOLIS —Both the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets might need to steer clear of their usual special teams calls and plans when the two teams face off on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.
With the amount of familiarity between the game's two special teams coordinators, you can bet both sides have made some extra adjustments in the days of practice leading up to the matchup.
That's because Brant Boyer, who spent the first four seasons of his NFL coaching career as a special teams assistant with the Indianapolis Colts, is now in his first season as the Jets' special teams coordinator.
He'll face off against his old team for the first time on Monday.
"Brant's a good football coach, he's a great friend," Colts special teams coordinator Tom McMahon said this week. "He's going to get these guys ready to go, so he knows, quote-unquote, our calls; we know his calls. We've got to switch calls; he's got to switch calls. So we know each other very very well, but at the end of the day, he's got these guys playing hard."
While with the Colts from 2012 through 2015, Boyer helped oversee a special teams unit during that span that ranked third in net punting average, fourth in kickoff return average and kickoff touchbacks and seventh in field goal percentage.
Boyer also helped groom All-Pros Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri, while he discovered long snapper Matt Overton at a specialists combine in 2012; Overton was named to the Pro Bowl the next season.
The Jets hired Boyer this offseason with hopes that he could bring his tremendous experience with the Colts and help them stabilize their own special teams woes in recent seasons; Boyer's hiring was the team's fifth special teams coordinator in as many seasons.
One of the biggest draws for Boyer is the fact he was a standout player in the NFL, as he played 10 years with the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, and was a special teams captain in Jacksonville and Cleveland.
Boyer also played his last two seasons with the Browns with two young assistant coaches — Chuck Pagano and Todd Bowles — leading the team's secondary at the time.
Fast forward 15 years later, and Pagano is impressed with the work Boyer is doing in his first opportunity as a coordinator in the NFL.
"Brant Boyer's doing a great job over there," Pagano said this week.
The Colts know they'll have their hands full with Boyer's two kick returners, Jalin Marshall and Jeremy Ross. As a team, New York ranks 10th in the NFL with a 23.4 yards-per-kickoff-return average, and McMahon said most of those yards are well earned.
It's not just key to get to the returner against the Jets; you must take them to the ground.
"What Jalin (Marshall) and Jeremy Ross give them is, to me, they're both Golden Tate; they're both guys that, in my opinion — I don't know if they did or not — but they both look like they played running back in their past," McMahon said. "So they break tackles, you've got to wrap them up — we call it a python tackle."
And when you decide to pooch a punt against the Jets — look out.
"Brant's done a great job with these guys — if they're going to let the ball go over their head, they're going to block the heck out of our gunners and get a touchback, and that way they can start on the minus-20," McMahon said. "They're a very hard team to pin; very, very well-coached returners."