The Patriots will bring back Joe Judge as an offensive assistant

Could the Patriots hiring Judge as an offensive assistant mean he might be Josh McDaniels's successor as an offensive play-caller?

Joe Judge Patriots
Head coach Joe Judge looks on from the bench during the game against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on August 29, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Judge is expected to rejoin the Patriots in the coming days after being fired by the Giants after the 2021 season. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Update, 4:18 p.m. Tuesday: The Patriots made the Joe Judge hire official in a press release.

An old friend could be returning to the Patriots’ sideline for the 2022 season. No, not the one in Alabama everyone has their eye on.

Sports Illustrated NFL insider Albert Breer reported on Tuesday that New England is expected to bring one-time special teams coordinator and former Giants coach Joe Judge back to Foxborough “in the coming days.”

Judge spent the last two years as the coach of the New York Giants but was fired after the 2021 campaign after a second losing season. He finished his tenure in New York with a 10-23 record.


Former Patriots offensive coordinator and current Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels reportedly sought to bring Judge on as special teams coordinator for his new staff in Las Vegas. But the longtime Bill Belichick assistant opted to return to the place he’d spent his entire NFL career before leaving to the Giants.

Though speculation had arisen the Patriots could look to bring Judge back as the special teams coordinator after the unit struggled under Cam Achord this past year, Breer reports Judge’s appointment will be as an offensive assistant.

That immediately raises the following question: might Judge be McDaniels’s successor as the team’s play-caller on offense even if he’s not listed as the offensive coordinator?

Though Judge spent the overwhelming majority of his time in New England as a special teams assistant or coordinator, he also added “wide receivers coach” to his resume in 2019. What’s more: Belichick has previously said Judge “could probably coach any position on the field,” meaning it might not be too far-fetched to think Belichick could trust Judge in this capacity.

It’s also not unusual for New England to have play-callers without having specific offensive or defensive “coordinator” positions attached to them. For example, Steve Belichick calls the defensive plays as the team’s outside linebackers coach. (Interesting note: keeping that pesky coordinator tag off might just help the Patriots side-step the Rooney Rule process of having to interview minority candidates Belichick doesn’t want.)

Though doing so would have some risk, it would accomplish a few things: finding a play-caller with ties to the Patriots system that can maintain continuity for Mac Jones, and allowing Belichick to more closely govern the team’s offensive philosophy with a (relatively) inexperienced assistant. (If that offensive mindset is anything like it was last season, it will involve a good deal of running the football.)


Of course, there’s still time for the Patriots to add a proper offensive play-caller like Alabama’s Bill O’Brien (assuming he wants to leave). But Judge’s involvement with the offense could be an intriguing storyline heading into the 2022 season.


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