New England Patriots hiring of Joe Judge gives the offense continuity

Head Coach Joe Judge of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Head Coach Joe Judge of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots coaching staff took a bit of a hit when Josh McDaniels decided to take the Las Vegas Raiders head coaching job. While McDaniels’ playcalling has been a sporadic over the past few seasons, his familiarity with the offense was a big reason for New England’s recent success.

This afternoon, the Patriots took the first step towards shoring up some of the holes on their coaching staff by bringing in Joe Judge as an offensive assistant. For those who forgot, Judge was formerly the Patriots special teams coach (and wide receivers coach in 2019) before he took over as the New York Giants head coach for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Judge’s two years with New York were horrible, and it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him get fired shortly after the season ended. With McDaniels heading off to Las Vegas, I took a look at Judge’s potential fit as his replacement for offensive coordinator. Even if Judge wasn’t hired as the OC though, I figured he would end up back with the New England Patriots one way or another. Turns out that prediction was correct.

While Judge isn’t the Patriots OC (at least not officially) this hiring is a good sign that Bill Belichick wants to build some continuity that the Pats offense now lacks with McDaniels gone. McDaniels was the piece holding things together for the past nine years, and with him gone, it seemed like only a matter of time until Judge found his way back to New England. Judge’s head coaching stint didn’t go well, but that’s not to say he’s not going to be a big help for next season.

The New England Patriots addition of Joe Judge could turn out to be a big win for both parties

Judge’s struggles during his first head coaching stint were well documented. Like many of the other Belichick disciples that took their shot at leading a team, Judge tried to implement a system similar to the one in New England. And like those many other Belichick disciples, Judge failed miserably.

This isn’t to say everything falls on Jones though. The Giants were destroyed by injuries last season, and Daniel Jones hasn’t really done much of anything since he took over for the Eli Manning. The Giants were a mess before Judge came in, and they are an even bigger mess now. But that doesn’t mean that Judge has no coaching skills or is “washed” by any means.

Many coaches struggle in their first stint as a head coach, and Judge certainly isn’t the first one. McDaniels initial head coaching stint with the Denver Broncos went horribly, and it took him over 10 years to find his next head coaching gig. Matt Patricia’s stint with the Detroit Lions was equally horrible, and he did pretty much the same thing Judge is doing now last season.

Judge has something that cannot be overstated with McDaniels’ departure and that’s familiarity with the offense. There’s not a clear replacement for the offensive coordinator internally, which is why everybody naturally assumed a guy like Judge or Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien were the top candidates. Belichick loves to promote internally, but this time he really can’t.

The goal of this offseason should be to make Mac Jones‘ life easier next season. Much of time, it felt like Jones was suffocated by McDaniels’ conservative playcalling or a lack of a go-to option when he was called upon to pass. And while McDaniels’ playcalling was often a subject of passionate anger from Pats fans, he is the only NFL level playcaller Jones has ever known. So it makes sense to surround the young QB with coaches who are similar to McDaniels.

Judge is just that. Judge spent seven seasons with New England before taking off for New York, and while he really only had involvement with the offense in 2019, he wouldn’t be brought back as an offensive assistant if he didn’t have any knowledge of the offense. He knows how the Patriots operate, and it wouldn’t surprise me if one of his main jobs is helping Jones pick up whatever the new offensive coordinator brings into town (if they bring in another offensive coordinator that is).

Speaking of which, this kind of clouds up what Belichick intends to do with the offensive coordinator position. He could do what he does on defense and not announce a defensive coordinator, but that seems like it wouldn’t benefit Jones or the rest of the offense for that matter. The bet here is that O’Brien still finds his way to Foxboro at some point this offseason and helps open up the New England Patriots offense.

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Bringing Judge back to New England makes sense for a number of reasons, and it’s not really surprising that it happened. But the Patriots got another coach familiar with their system who knows what it takes to succeed here, and he should figure to be a good resource for Jones (and the special teams unit too, hopefully).

It may fly under the radar due to his struggles with Giants, but Judge returning to the New England Patriots coaching staff figures to be a mutually beneficial partnership.