Joe Judge

Coaching Rumors: Judge, Lions, Fins, Eagles

Other teams besides the Colts were interested in adding Patriots special teams coach Joe Judge, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports, but Judge and the Pats are finalizing a deal that will keep him in New England. The 36-year-old assistant will be the team’s special teams coordinator for a fourth season. The sides are ironing out minor details, but Reiss reports the deal to retain Judge is imminent, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported earlier this week. Judge was a possible defection candidate if McDaniels had followed through on taking the Colts’ HC job.

Here’s the latest from the coaching circuit as we head into the offseason’s first official weekend.

  • Staying with special teams, the Lions are not going to overhaul their ST staff as they did their defensive coaching contingent. ST coordinator Joe Marciano and assistant ST coach Devin Fitzimmons will return next season, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reports. An NFL special teams coach since 1986, Marciano has been with the Lions since 2015.
  • Detroit continued to configure its defensive staff on Thursday, hiring Bo Davis to instruct its defensive linemen, the team announced. Davis will join the Lions after spending most of the past two decades on Nick Saban‘s staffs at LSU, the Dolphins and Alabama. However, Davis’ Crimson Tide tenure — one that included coaching current Lions lineman A’Shawn Robinson, ended in 2016 when he resigned from Alabama due to NCAA violations. Davis, however, resurfaced at Texas-San Antonio last season and coached first-round defensive end hopeful Marcus Davenport.
  • The Eagles have lost their quarterbacks coach, but they are prepared to fill the void internally. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer expects the team to move receivers coach Mike Groh to quarterbacks coach and assistant quarterbacks coach Press Taylor to WRs coach (Twitter link).
  • Former Dolphins safety Renaldo Hill will now work with the team as a coach, being hired as Miami’s assistant defensive backs coach. The team notes this is the 10th former Dolphins player to serve as a Fins coach. Hill, who played 10 NFL seasons and spent three seasons (2006-08) in Miami, has coached at Wyoming and the University of Pittsburgh since 2012. This will be his first NFL coaching gig.
  • Prior to hiring Tom Bradley to be their new defensive backs coach, the Steelers interviewed South Florida DBs coach Blue Adams, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. Mike Tomlin coached Adams while he was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati.
  • Despite the Texans blocking the Broncos from interviewing Wes Welker, the Broncos will see their six-year strength and conditioning coach depart for Houston. Luke Richesson will become the Texans’ strength coach, 9News’ Mike Klis reports, with the team set to give him a bigger role than he had in Denver.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Patriots To Retain ST Coach Joe Judge

Josh McDaniels is staying put in New England, and so is Joe Judge. The Patriots have struck a deal to retain their special teams coordinator, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. Joe Judge (Vertical)

The Colts had been trying to pry Judge away from the Patriots, but now that McDaniels has rejected Indianapolis’ head coaching offer, Judge will remain in New England. There was also some thought that another former Pats coordinator — new Lions head coach Matt Patriciacould lure Judge to Detroit, but that won’t be happening, either.

Judge, 36, was promoted from assistant special teams coach to the primary role following Scott O’Brien‘s 2015 retirement. New England’s special teams unit, always one of the league’s best under Bill Belichick & Co., hasn’t skipped a beat with Judge in charge, as the club has ranked among the top-eight clubs in ST DVOA since 2015. In 2017, the Patriots’ special teams posted their best year yet under Judge by finishing third in DVOA.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Trying To Keep ST Coach Joe Judge From Joining Colts

Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge‘s contract has expired, and while speculation has centered around Judge joining ex-New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in Detroit, it’s actually the Colts and former Pats OC Josh McDaniels who loom as the key competitor for Judge’s services, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). However, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are also “making a play” to retain Judge, per Breer.Joe Judge (Vertical)

Judge, 36, was promoted from assistant special teams coach to the primary role following Scott O’Brien‘s 2015 retirement. New England’s special teams unit, always one of the league’s best under Belichick & Co., hasn’t skipped a beat with Judge in charge, as the club has ranked among the top-eight clubs in ST DVOA since 2015. In 2017, the Patriots’ special teams posted their best year yet under Judge by finishing third in DVOA.

While it’s unclear how much Judge currently makes (head coaches salaries aren’t public knowledge, let alone special teams coaches), Mike Reiss of ESPN.com recently speculated the Patriots could give Judge a raise and perhaps a more prominent role, especially given the recent defections of Patricia and McDaniels. While this is purely speculation, it’s possible New England could give Judge an assistant head coach title to go along with his special teams job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Wentz, Beckham, Patriots

The Eagles are gearing up for Super Bowl LII tonight, but their prospects for next season got a nice boost this morning. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that, this Wednesday, Carson Wentz will begin weight-bearing exercises with his brace unlocked for the first time since being placed on injured reserve. That marks a big milestone in Wentz’s recovery, because when he is able to begin weight-bearing exercises, his recovery can proceed as if he had torn only his ACL instead of his ACL and LCL.

When it was revealed that Wentz tore both his ACL and LCL, concern as to whether he would be ready for next season’s opener increased, and it is still far from a given that he will be on the field for Week 1 of the 2018 campaign. But Dr. James Bradley, who performed Wentz’s surgery, said that barring a setback, Wentz should be ready to do some work in training camp and be ready to play in Week 1.

Now for more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Mercurial Giants wideout Odell Beckham, Jr. is under club control for one more season — the last year of his rookie deal — and it was not too long ago that he was looking for a new contract worth at least $100MM. But a season-ending ankle fracture in October has thrown a wrench into those plans, and we recently learned that team owner John Mara would not engage in contract talks with Beckham until he discussed the matter with new head coach Pat Shurmur. As Anthony Barstow of the New York Post writes, though, Shurmur is seemingly in Beckham’s corner, and Beckham himself is anxious to put the matter to bed. He said during last night’s NFL Honors show, “Hopefully we get it done, just to get it over with. I really want to do it so I can move past it. It’s too much to be sitting around, thinking where I’m going to be.” 
  • We heard several days ago that the Patriots are likely to lose special teams coach Joe Judge and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia this offseason — Judge to another team and Scarnecchia to retirement — but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com does not believe either departure is a foregone conclusion. Given that New England will lose top coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, Reiss can envision a scenario in which owner Robert Kraft gives Judge a raise to convince him to stay and head coach Bill Belichick “leans on” Scarnecchia to come back for at least one more season.
  • This year’s QB market is uniquely loaded with talent, both in free agency and the draft, and if Jets GM Mike Maccagnan cannot find a permanent solution this offseason, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says he should be run out of town. The Jets will certainly be a competitor for Kirk Cousins services, but a Cousins splurge would significantly hamper the team’s ability to improve the rest of its roster. Cimini believes Gang Green should pass on Cousins if the bidding gets out of hand, as he views the longtime Redskin as a complementary piece rather than a savior. Of course, what the Jets do vis-a-vis Cousins depends on how Maccagnan & Co. view the 2018 rookie class.
  • Speaking of Cousins, we heard this morning that the Redskins may put the franchise tag on him in the coming weeks with the hopes of trading him.

Latest On Josh McDaniels, Patriots’ Staff

Josh McDaniels had his second interview with the Colts on Friday, and it apparently went well. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) that, shortly after the conclusion of Super Bowl LII, Indianapolis will hire McDaniels as its next head coach.

Josh McDaniels (Vertical)

Of course, this hardly qualifies as breaking news. We have known for some time now that McDaniels would be heading to the Colts once New England’s season is over, and the Friday interview was largely just an opportunity for him to sit down with Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard and owner Jim Irsay to make plans for the offseason. As Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets, Irsay was not present for the first interview, so the second summit was needed to get the owner’s official stamp of approval.

McDaniels will now turn his attention towards bringing yet another Super Bowl to New England before he departs. The Patriots, meanwhile, will need to replace not only McDaniels, but DC Matt Patricia as well. Plus, as Schefter points out, Pats special teams coordinator Joe Judge is on an expiring contract, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe hears that Judge may well join Patricia in Detroit (Twitter link).

Volin writes in a full-length piece that Patriots LB coach Brian Flores — who got some head coaching interest this year — seems like the obvious candidate to replace Patricia as New England’s DC. The real question, then, is who (if anyone) will replace McDaniels.

As Volin notes, head coach Bill Belichick has not had to fill either top coordinator position since 2012, but his history suggests that if he does name a new offensive coordinator, he will promote from within. Indeed, all of Belichick’s coordinators during his 18-year tenure in New England either worked with him at a previous stop or worked their way up inside the Pats’ organization.

During a portion of Belichick’s reign, the team has not even had an official offensive coordinator. McDaniels ran the offense as a quarterbacks coach in 2005, and current Texans head coach Bill O’Brien called plays for the offense during the 2008-09 seasons but did not hold the OC title.

Nonetheless, someone will need to run the offense, regardless of title, and Volin says the only two realistic choices on-staff are assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski and receivers coach Chad O’Shea. Of the two, Volin sees O’Shea as the more likely target, as he has experience in all facets of the game and currently serves as the team’s red zone offense coordinator.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Patriots, Falcons, Raiders

Both Patriots coordinators — Josh McDaniels (offense) and Matt Patricia (defense) — are expected to accept head coaching jobs this offseason, but they may not be the only top assistants to leave New England in the coming weeks. Special teams coordinator Joe Judge is also working on an expiring contract, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who adds Judge could follow either McDaniels or Patricia to Indianapolis or Detroit, respectively. The Patriots have finished as a top-eight special teams unit in DVOA in each of Judge’s seven seasons at the helm.

Here’s more from the coaching carousel:

  • If former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard doesn’t land another DC job, it “wouldn’t be a surprise” to see him land with the Falcons, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com opines. The connection makes sense, as Richard preceded Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn as Seattle’s defensive play-caller, and also played alongside current Falcons DC Marquand Manuel. Richard likely wouldn’t become defensive coordinator in Atlanta, so he could hypothetically wait to see if he garners interest around the league before taking a lesser position with the Falcons.
  • Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day is reportedly new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel‘s top choice to become Tennessee’s next OC, but Vrabel also has interest in Lions quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan, tweets Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com. Callahan has drawn coordinator interest around the league before, and could also be on the Jets’ radar as they seek to fill their OC vacancy. However, Detroit and new head coach Matt Patricia want to keep Callahan in place with the Lions.
  • The Raiders interviewed former Texas A&M (and current Arizona) head coach Kevin Sumlin, but it’s unclear which role Jon Gruden had in mind for the longtime NCAA coach. While Alex Marvez of the Sporting News recently reported Oakland met with Sumlin regarding its wide receivers coach job, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com indicates (via Twitter) Sumlin interviewed for offensive coordinator. The Raiders ultimately hired Edgar Bennett and Greg Olson for those respective gigs.
  • Before accepting a new position with the Giants, special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey interviewed with the Browns, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Cleveland ultimately selected former Cardinals ST coach Amos Jones over McGaughey, who’s also coordinated special teams units for the Jets and 49ers.
  • Scott McCurley — who coached inside linebackers for the Packers in 2017 but was fired at season’s end — is now back with Green Bay, but could possibly be working under a new title, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Additionally, the Packers have reassigned special teams assistant Jason Simmons to a defensive position, while former Colts staffer Maurice Drayton will replace Simmons’ ST duties.

Extra Points: Tannehill, Foles, Bryant

Former Creative Artists Agency employee Ben Dogra is now the co-CEO of the football division at Relativity Sports, as Darren Heitner of Forbes.com writes. As of September 26, Dogra was on record as representing 39 players signed to NFL deals, but it’s not clear how many he’ll be taking over with him. Dogra will share duties with contract advisor Eugene Parker, an interesting twist since the two men were bitter rivals for nearly two decades in the business. More from around the NFL..

  • There is a lot of work for the Dolphins to do this offseason, but their biggest decision might be how to handle the contract situation of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, James Walker of ESPN.com writes. Miami could trigger Tannehill’s expensive fifth-year team option at $15MM, work out a long-term extension, or roll the dice and wait it out with the QB. The $15MM option is obviously steep, but Miami could theoretically justify it by contrasting it to Tannehill’s $2.117MM salary for 2015. Averaged out, that’s just $8.5MM per year.
  • Sheil Kapadia of Philadelphia Magazine looked at the Eagles‘ quarterback spot. There has been buzz that the Eagles will replace quarterback Nick Foles with Marcus Mariota, but it seems like a longshot that they can move up to No. 1 to grab the Oregon product. Instead, Kapadia sees Foles staying while the Eagles bring in a new backup to replace Mark Sanchez and a developmental prospect to replace Matt Barkley.
  • Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News is optimistic when it comes to the Cowboys‘ chances of keeping their two star free agents. He’s about 100% certain that Dez Bryant will be back in Dallas and 70-75% on DeMarco Murray.
  • The Patriots announced that special teams coordinator Scott O’Brien is retiring and assistant coach Joe Judge has been elevated to his role, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe (on Twitter).
  • The Eagles announced (on Twitter) that Matthew Harper will be the team’s new assistant defensive backs coach while Michael Clay will be the new assistant special teams coach. The Eagles (link) also hired Princeton’s inside linebackers coach Stephen Thomas to be the team’s defensive quality control coach.
  • Alabama Director of Football Operations, Joe Pannunzio, is also headed to the Eagles, according to Aaron Suttles of The Tuscaloosa News (on Twitter).