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An old friend could return to the Patriots sideline for the 2022 season. No, not the Alabama one everyone has their eye on.
Sports Illustrated NFL insider Albert Breer reported Tuesday that New England is expected to bring special teams coordinator and former Giants coach Joe Judge back to Foxborough “in the coming days.”
Judge spent the last two years as coach of the New York Giants but was fired after the 2021 campaign following a losing second 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 wanted summon the judge as special teams coordinator for his new staff in Las Vegas. But Bill Belichick’s longtime assistant chose to return to where he had spent his entire NFL career before leaving for the Giants.
Although speculation has arisen the Patriots may be looking to bring Judge back as special teams coordinator after the unit struggled under Cam Achord last year, Breer reports Judge’s appointment will be as a offensive assistant.
This immediately begs the question: Could Judge be McDaniels’ successor as the team’s offensive playmaker even though he’s not listed as an offensive coordinator?
Although Judge spent the overwhelming majority of his time in New England as an assistant or special teams coordinator, he also added “wide receivers coach” to his resume in 2019. Plus: Belichick has previously said Judge “could probably coach any position on the estate,” meaning it’s perhaps not a stretch to think that Belichick could be trusted in Judge in that capacity.
It’s also not unusual for New England to have callers without having specific offensive or defensive “coordinator” positions attached to them. For example, Steve Belichick calls defensive plays as the team’s outside linebacker coach. (Interesting side note: Keeping that pesky coordinator tag might just help the Patriots sidestep the Rooney Rule process of having to interview minority candidates Belichick doesn’t want.)
While it carries some risk, it would accomplish a few things: finding a caller with ties to the Patriots system who can maintain continuity for Mac Jones, and allowing Belichick to more closely govern the offensive philosophy of the teamed up with a (relatively) inexperienced assistant. (If that attacking mindset is anything like last season, it will involve a good deal of football management.)
Of course, there’s still time for the Patriots to add a real offensive point guard like Alabama’s Bill O’Brien (assuming he wants to leave). But Judge’s involvement in the offense could be an intriguing storyline heading into the 2022 season.
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