A year after Matt Patricia returned to the Patriots following a dismal run in Detroit as a head coach, another Bill Belichick disciple is making a similar reunion this offseason. Fired by the Giants in January after two years atop New York’s staff, Joe Judge officially agreed to a deal to return to the Patriots as an offensive assistant, the team announced Tuesday.
Judge, 40, spent eight years working for New England before the Giants hired him as their head coach in 2020. He focused solely on special teams for all but one of those seasons, first as an assistant (2012-2014) and then as special teams coordinator (2015-2019). During his final season with the Patriots, however, he also took over as the team’s wide receivers coach.
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The Raiders recently expressed interest in hiring Judge as their new special teams coordinator, per ESPN, after adding former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a longtime colleague, as their head coach; and losing Rich Bisaccia, their previous special teams coordinator, to the Packers.
By returning to New England, however, Judge will reunite with the only other NFL team for which he’s worked, after previously coaching at Birmingham-Southern and Alabama.
This move could be a significant one for the Patriots as it relates to the current vacancy at the offensive coordinator spot following McDaniels’ departure. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported earlier on Tuesday that New England may not hire an OC and noted the addition of Judge gives the organization added leadership on offense while also the ability to shift responsibilities around.
It’s unclear if that means Judge would be in line to be the offensive play-caller for the Patriots or if that role would go to other in-house options like tight ends coach Nick Caley or receivers coach Mick Lombardi. Not having a coordinator in title has been a common practice for the Patriots in the past and currently don’t have a defensive coordinator named, as Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick are said to share play-calling duties. With that in mind, it’ll be curious to see how the team may operate under similar circumstances on offense.
During his short-lived run as Giants coach, Judge’s offense ranked 31st in the NFL for two straight years.