Should Patriots welcome Joe Judge back after 2021 special teams nightmare?
By Mike Luciano
The New England Patriots can never go an offseason without one of their assistant coaches being hired away to replicate Bill Belichick’s success elsewhere. Before the 2020 season, the New York Giants bizarrely decided to give special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Judge the task of rebuilding the mess left by Pat Shurmur.
Special teams coaches like John Harbaugh have had success in this league, but a young candidate in the 38-year-old Judge was hired despite only five years of experience beyond being a special teams assistant in the pros and one incredibly poor year coaching New England’s receivers.
Judge flamed out in New York, going 10-23 in two seasons. After punctuating the end of his tenure with some very weird rambling in his postgame press conferences, it was almost untenable to keep him around. Luckily for Judge, he may have a golden parachute that could help him land with the Patriots.
New England finished with a negative special teams DVOA for the first time in the Belichick era, which has to get under the skin of a coach that emphasized preparation and detail out of that unit. Could Judge be on his way back to the Patriots as the special teams coach?
Will Joe Judge return to the New England Patriots?
New England’s special teams consistently graded as above average in DVOA when Judge was in town. Even though Nick Folk is drilling his kicks, the Patriots have been unusually poor when it comes to providing quality kick coverage, stopping opponents from blocking punts, and avoiding penalties.
Will the Patriots respect him after he fizzled out in New York with bizarre stunts like running consecutive quarterback sneaks at his own four-yard line in a 3-0 game? Well, part of the reason Judge failed was the enormity of the job. Returning to a more specialized role could help him feel comfortable.
The Patriots have a history of rehiring coaches that fail outside of New England. Just this year, Matt Patricia was welcomed back into the fold after the Lions decided to move on from him. Judge could try to rehabilitate his value as a coach by linking back up with Belichick.
Some guys just aren’t good head coaches. Even if Judge had the potential to be a good head coach, handing him the job of a struggling gold-star franchise in the Giants at age 38 was a recipe for disaster given all of the pressure. Judge might be a cog in the Belichick machine, but he was effective in his past role. Why not take him back if you can?