Joe Judge

Patriots Not Making Late-Season Offensive Changes

Throughout the offseason, the structure of the Patriots’ offensive coaching staff remained the source of plenty of speculation and scrutiny. To date, the unit’s underwhelming performance has invited more questions regarding significant personnel or schematic changes, but none will be forthcoming in the immediate future.

While making his weekly appearance on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show, head coach Bill Belichick confirmed that the Patriots will essentially maintain the status quo with respect to their offense. That means Matt Patricia will remain the unit’s play-caller, a role he was given this year despite having hardly any experience working as an offensive staffer. Quarterbacks coach Joe Judge is also a central figure in the offense.

“I think we need to do what we’re doing better,” Belichick said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss“I don’t think at this point making a lot of dramatic changes; it’s too hard to do that… We just have to play and coach more consistently.”

New England has remained in playoff contention largely due to the strength of their defense. The offense has put up below-average numbers in several categories, and has struggled considerably in the red zone in particular. Quarterback Mac Jones has regressed in his second NFL season, as he and the rest of the team transition to the post-Josh McDaniels era.

Jones was visibly upset during the Patriots’ loss to the Bills last Thursday, a game in which the team relied heavily on the short passing game. Despite the result of that contest, though, New England sits at 6-6 and remains a legitimate contender for an AFC Wild Card spot. Any improvement in production or consistency on the offensive side of the ball would help their playoff push significantly, but in the event that doesn’t happen, alterations will need to wait until the offseason to take shape.

AFC East Notes: Patricia, Dolphins, Armstead, Jets

If you’re keeping track at home, Matt Patricia now appears to be the favorite to be New England’s offensive play-caller. As Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes, Patricia was the only coach calling plays from the Patriots sideline during last night’s preseason contest. This is a change from the preseason opener, when Patricia alternated play-calling duties with Joe Judge.

Bill Belichick has continued to play coy on the entire situation, and he even hinted after the game that Patricia was merely communicating with Mac Jones vs. calling plays. Regardless of who ends up calling plays on offense, it’s clear that the organization is going with a committee approach to replace departed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

“It’s still a process,” Belichick told reporters after the game (via NESN.com). “He (Matt Patricia)… communication with the quarterback? Yeah. But as far as calling the plays, there’s a whole other process on that.

However, if you ask some NFL sources, then it may be neither Patricia nor Judge calling offensive plays for the Patriots in 2022. As Albert Breer of SI.com writes, there are a “lot of smart NFL people who know the Patriots well” and believe it will ultimately be Belichick who ends up calling plays for Jones and the Patriots offense. Breer cautions that the head coach will end up calling plays “at some point this season,” perhaps a hint that the organization may role into the season with one of Patricia/Judge but will be prepared to pull the plug on the experiment.

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • A Patriots‘ seventh-round rookie may end up missing the entire season. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, offensive tackle Andrew Stueber doesn’t have a timetable for his return from the NFI list. Stueber suffered an injury while training after the draft, and Reiss hints that the injury could end up delaying the Michigan product’s NFL debut until the 2023 season.
  • Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has told league executives that he intends to leave the Dolphins organization to his family, according to Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal (on Twitter). While this isn’t a huge surprise, it seems pretty clear that Ross won’t be leaving the franchise to limited partner Bruce Beal. Both Ross and Beal were slapped with suspensions following Miami’s tampering investigation.
  • The Dolphins inked left tackle Terron Armstead to a massive deal this offseason. However, the offensive lineman has never been able to make it through an entire season healthy, and that includes a 2021 campaign when he was limited to only eight snaps. If Armstead is forced to miss any time, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald suggests (on Twitter) that the coaching staff could end up moving right tackle Austin Jackson or guard Liam Eichenberg to LT, although the reporter notes that coach Mike McDaniel prefers to keep players at their starting position instead of shifting them around.
  • Duane Brown‘s two-year, $22MM deal with the Jets includes a $7.88MM signing bonus and three void years, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). As a result, the offensive tackle’s cap hit for the 2022 season is only $3.69MM. The veteran will earn a base salary of $1.12MM in 2022, but he’ll see that number jump to $9MM.

Matt Patricia, Joe Judge Split Patriots Offensive Play-Calling Duties

Last night’s preseason opener represented the next significant opportunity for observers to assess the Patriots’ approach with respect to their offensive play-calling. Over the course of the game, both Matt Patricia and Joe Judge operated as de-facto offensive coordinators, keeping the matter as unclear as it has been throughout the offseason. 

Patricia called plays to begin the game, during which time Brian Hoyer was the quarterback. After the Patriots replaced him with fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe, however, Judge assumed the role of play-caller, as detailed by Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk.

That development comes after the team officially unveiled the titles for their coaching staff last month, including offensive assistant/quarterbacks for Judge and senior football advisor/offensive line for Patricia. While each staffer is coming off of a recent (and underwhelming) head coaching gig elsewhere, they have years of experience working on the sidelines under head coach Bill Belichick. Neither of them have offensive play-calling on their resumes, however.

When asked after the game about the decision to split the duties, Belichick said, via PFT’s Mike Florio“We did a lot of things in this game that are going to be beneficial in the long run, whether it was on the coaching staff, playing time, players that played and so forth. That’s all part of the process.”

With the Patriots electing not to employ an official OC – something they also did in 2010 – the question of who will call plays in the regular season has been an ongoing one through the spring and summer. Patricia was initially considered the favorite for the role, but with both he and Judge being auditioned yesterday, it appears the final decision has yet to be made.

On that topic, Belichick added, “don’t worry about that. We’ll work it out… We’re going through a process.” The outcome of that process will be one worth watching as the preseason continues.

Patriots Finalize Coaching Staff Titles

The numerous changes seen on the sidelines in New England this offseason have been a major talking point heading into an important year for the team. With training camp opening, the Patriots assistants’ job titles have been finalized, leaving plenty of unanswered questions. 

As noted by PFF’s Doug Kyed (on Twitter), official titles have been given to, among others, Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. The former is listed as an offensive assistant/quarterbacks, while the latter will serve as a senior football advisor/offensive line. The news confirms the roles for those two returnees, which had previously been reported.

Working with the team’s QBs will be new for Judge, who established himself as a HC candidate with his special teams work during his first stint with the Patriots. How quickly he adapts to the new role will be critical to New England’s success, as Mac Jones enters his all-important second NFL campaign. Likewise, Patricia will be in relatively unfamiliar territory; he hasn’t worked with the team’s o-line since 2005, and made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball.

Also among the takeaways from this announcement is the fact that no coach is identified as an offensive or defensive coordinator. Play-calling duties have been up in the air on offense in particular, with Patricia initially tapped as the favorite for the role. Uncertainty isn’t new in this regard for the Patriots, however; as Kyed tweets, New England operated without an OC in 2010, and haven’t formally had a DC since 2017.

A great deal of attention will be paid to the ex-HCs in the return to the Patriots’ sideline in 2022. The exact duties of each, as they emerge throughout the season, will no doubt be subject to significant scrutiny.

AFC East Notes: Poyer, Becton, Jets, Patriots

Jordan Poyer continues to pursue a new contract, but that won’t keep him away from mandatory minicamp. The Bills All-Pro safety is in attendance for practice this week, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

The impending free agent is seeking a new deal, and the Bills have been in communication with the player’s camp. According to ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg, Poyer’s participation may be limited in a pseudo-holdout move.

“I think Jordan is in a good place mentally,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “He’s still staying in touch with his teammates, and hopefully, we’ll see him soon.”

Poyer has been a consistent starter on the Bills defense since joining the organization in 2017, missing only a pair of games. After collecting 100+ tackles between 2018 and 2020, the safety earned his first career All-Pro nod in 2021 after finishing with 93 tackles, three sacks, and five interceptions. The veteran inked a two-year extension with the organization in 2020.

More out of the AFC East:

  • The Jets could turn to a committee approach as they look to replace Jamison Crowder‘s spot at slot receiver, writes ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Many assumed that Braxton Berrios would slide into the role, but head coach Robert Saleh admitted the team is “working through it” and prefers to slide players in and out of the spot to keep things unpredictable. Elijah Moore and rookie Garrett Wilson are among the receivers who could join Berrios in the slot rotation.
  • Jets defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd rejected a better offer to re-sign with the Jets on a one-year, $1.1MM deal, according to Cimini. Incredibly, the 2018 draft pick is the team’s longest-tenured player, and he’s earned a reputation as a hard worker and loyal player. As Cimini notes, Shepard is now the biggest player on the team with Folorunso Fatukasi gone, and that could mean the veteran will see a more significant role in run-stopping situations.
  • Jets offensive lineman Mekhi Becton made it to mandatory minicamp after having sat out previous voluntary sessions, tweets ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The lineman didn’t practice, presumably because he’s still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee. Meanwhile, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano writes that the player’s ability to return to the field could ultimately influence the left tackle competition between Becton and George Fant. “The faster that you can stamp ‘Hey, this is what we feel like is going to be our best going into Week 1 vs. Baltimore,’ the faster we can do that the better,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said (via Vacchiano). “I think it will play itself out fairly quickly. When we get back (for training camp), we’re rolling, we’re running the football, and we’re going to see. It’ll all play itself out.”
  • At least one “prominent” member of the Patriots offense believed the coaching staff was unprepared at the start of the team’s offseason workout, according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus. Following Josh McDaniels move to Las Vegas, the Patriots haven’t replaced anyone as their offensive coordinator, with former ST coordinator Joe Judge and former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia apparently taking on larger roles on offense. However, it sounds like the coaches are settling into roles, with Kyed describing Judge as the “passing game coordinator” and Patricia as the “running game coordinator.” Naturally, head coach Bill Belichick recently swatted away any questions about the offensive play calling. “If you’re asking about game plans, we’re months away from that — months,” Belichick said. “Months away. Months. What plays are we calling? Mini-camp plays?”

Latest On Patriots’ Offensive Coordinator Duties

About a week and a half ago, we wrote the latest on this situation with some fairly surprising names like head coach Bill Belichick, former special teams coordinator Joe Judge, and former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia being considered for the open offensive play-calling duties left vacant when former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels took the head coaching position in Las Vegas. Jeff Howe of The Athletic was able to provide a bit of an update today that shows things are trending in an unlikely direction. 

To recap, since leaving New England to be head coach of the Lions, Patricia has since returned in the role of senior football advisor. All the way back in 2004 and 2005, Patricia was on the offensive side of the ball working with the Patriots’ offensive line. It’s been presumed that he will be, once again, working with the big men on offense this season.

Judge, since leaving to be head coach of the Giants, has also returned, now in the role of offensive assistant. Despite working primarily with special teams during his tenure in New England, he did add wide receivers to his docket in his final year before going to New York. Those in league circles believe that this year he will be working directly with Mac JonesBailey Zappe, and the other quarterbacks.

Now, Belichick has never officially held play-calling duties. While it’s generally accepted that he’s always had an influence on the Patriots’ offense, McDaniels was always granted free rein to call plays. To his credit, though, in Belichick’s first head coaching job in Cleveland, he was heavily credited for his role in the offensive play-calling, though he claimed it was a group effort.

Howe’s update tells that things are still a bit up in the air but that they’re starting to fall into place. While the three have still been sharing the duties during OTAs, there has been some speculation that, due to Patricia handling run-based sessions and Judge taking charge of pass-based sessions, they may end up with the roles of run-game coordinator and pass-game coordinator, respectively.

For now, though, while no decision has been made, both Patricia and Judge are preparing as if they’ll be given the assignment. Early reports are indicating that “Patricia’s workload this spring has suggested he’s the early favorite to handle” play-calling duties.

Another nugget from Howe’s update suggests that McDaniels’ departure has led to the revamping of an offensive system that’s been notoriously difficult for free agents and rookies to learn. McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for the past 10 years in New England and for three more years in an interval before that. The familiarity and memorization involved with that level of continuity can make things difficult for newcomers from the outside. So the trio of play-calling candidates have been working, not necessarily to change the system, but to simplify the terminology to help ease the learning process.

Latest On Patriots’ Offensive Coordinator Duties

With former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels departing to take the head coaching gig in Las Vegas, the Patriots will be faced with the task of finding a new play-caller on offense. Well, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN, since the role has not yet been filled, it appears that head coach Bill Belichick, offensive assistant Joe Judge, and former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are all currently sharing the duties of the role

That list of names may be bit surprising. Patricia is currently on staff as a senior football advisor, after a rough tenure in his first head coaching job in Detroit. While Patricia is know for his time in New England as a defensive coach, he began with the Patriots as an offensive assistant and, subsequently, assistant offensive line coach. Many believe that, in his return, he will work mainly with the team’s offensive line, once again.

Judge is another branch of the Belichick-coaching tree that has returned after a less-than-stellar stint as the Giants’ head coach. Judge worked with the Patriots’ special teams unit during his first tenure with the team, adding wide receivers to his docket in his final year before going to New York. Listed on the Patriots’ website as an offensive assistant, it’s presumed that Judge will be working directly with Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, and the other quarterbacks.

Finally, the Hoody, himself. Belichick has never officially held play-calling duties. While it’s generally accepted that he’s always had an influence on the Patriots’ offense, McDaniels was always granted free-reign to call plays. Belichick hasn’t even coached with a focus solely on offense since he was the Lions’ receivers coach back in 1977. Besides that role in Detroit, as an assistant, Belichick has always coached defense and special teams. To his credit, though, in Belichick’s first head coaching job in Cleveland, he was heavily credited for his role in the offensive play-calling, though he claimed it was a group effort.

Besides the three named in Reiss’s article, tight ends/fullbacks coach Nick Caley is expected to take on increased responsibility. Troy Brown is in place to coach the wide receivers and kick returners. Ivan Fears and Vinnie Sunseri both share the oversight of the running backs. And Billy Yates holds the position of assistant offensive line coach.

This whole article may end up being a moot point if Belichick and company bring in an offensive coordinator ready to utilize the Patriots’ existing system and call plays in it. For now, though, the role is seemingly vacant, with Belichick taking a village approach to handle the duties.

Latest On Positional Roles For Joe Judge, Matt Patricia

One of the ongoing questions surrounding the Patriots this offseason has been tied to the specific duties assigned to Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. Clarity on the subject came recently when each of them spoke publicly about the team’s new-look offensive staff. 

“In terms of who is coaching each position, you’ll see me on the field with the quarterbacks” Judge said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. That role is significant in any case, but especially so in New England this upcoming season, given the importance of Mac Jones‘ development to the team’s overall success. The ex-Giants head coach has plenty of experience working under Bill Belichick, but has never served as a QBs coach before.

Patricia, meanwhile, revealed that he will be working with the team’s offensive line. That is a familiar position group for him, as he was an assistant o-line coach in 2005, but just as in Judge’s case, his role will be much different than the one he spent the most time with on the Patriots’ staff. The position will include a more simplified job description than those of head coach (which Patricia held in Detroit from 2018 to 2020) or defensive coordinator (which he held in New England for the six years prior to that).

Despite the announcements, nothing new was revealed with respect to play-calling duties. Reiss reported last week that Patricia seemed to be the favorite to fill the vacancy left by Josh McDaniels, though he acknowledged that Judge was a candidate as well. The latter indicated that a final decision on the matter of the duties – if not the title – of offensive coordinator has yet to be made.

“In terms of who calls plays, to be honest with you, that’s not the main focus right now” he said. “When Coach [Belichick] wants to go ahead and declare a role like that, he’ll tell us.”

Matt Patricia Favorite To Call Patriots’ Offensive Plays?

The only team without an offensive coordinator, the Patriots are considering a radical approach to replacing Josh McDaniels. It is looking like either Matt Patricia or Joe Judge will call their offensive plays.

Despite each struggling as head coaches, Patricia and Judge are back in New England. Judge landed in Foxborough this year, with Patricia having worked in various roles upon returning in 2021. Although Patricia has gained experience on the front office side since returning to the Patriots, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com hears (via the New York Post) the veteran defensive coordinator is firmly in play to be the team’s offensive play-caller this season.

Patricia and Judge were running New England’s offense during recent offseason workouts, and Reiss slots Patricia as the favorite to be the team’s play-caller come September. Judge, who has more experience on the offensive side of the ball, should not be ruled out. The Pats going with either would represent an unusual move. Judge certainly had input in the Giants’ offense following Jason Garrett‘s ouster, though that Judge-Freddie Kitchens stretch was ignominiously highlighted by the Jake Fromm quarterback-sneak play calls against Washington. Patricia has not called offensive plays at any level.

With the Patriots from 2004-17, Patricia began his tenure as an offensive assistant but quickly transitioned to the defensive side of the ball. The 47-year-old Pats staffer was their DC from 2012-17, prior to becoming the Lions’ head coach. Judge worked with the Patriots from 2012-19, rising to the dual roles of special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach. He would also make for an interesting choice, but this unorthodox approach has been on the radar for a bit now.

Bill Belichick has said Patricia, Judge, tight ends coach Nick Caley and receivers coach Troy Brown will play significant roles in guiding second-year QB Mac Jones and the Patriots’ offense. Of course, someone must sign off on the play calls. It would be one of the more fascinating decisions in recent coaching history to bestow that responsibility on a longtime defensive staffer.

Latest On Patriots Offensive Coaching Staff

With Josh McDaniels leaving New England for Las Vegas, the Patriots have a giant hole on their offensive coaching staff. In traditional Bill Belichick fashion, it sounds like the organization may be going with an unconventional route when it comes to McDaniels’ replacement(s). While Belichick hasn’t named an official offensive coordinator, the long-time head coach specifically singled out former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and former special teams coach Joe Judge “as those whom he will be relying upon to help replace McDaniels,” per ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

“We’ve had a lot of coaches take multiple responsibilities. I’m not really worried about that,” Belichick said today when asked about the lack of offensive experience for Patricia and Judge. “I think a good coach is a good coach. Matt is a great coach. Joe is a great coach. They’ll help us no matter what position they coach.”

Patricia had a brief stint as offensive line coach with the Patriots in 2005, but he moved to linebackers in 2006 and ended up staying on defense until getting a head coaching gig in Detroit. Similarly, Judge served primarily on special teams during his first seven years with the Patriots, but he took on the role of wide receivers coach in 2019 before leaving to coach the Giants.

When it comes to a lack of offensive coordinator, the Patriots took a similar route with their defense in 2021, with both Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick guiding that side of the ball (as Reiss notes, Belichick said today “that he doesn’t believe in titles”). The HC noted that all of Patricia, Judge, tight ends coach Nick Caley, and receivers coach Troy Brown will play significant roles in guiding second-year QB Mac Jones and the Patriots offense. However, Belichick was tight lipped when asked who will call plays.

“We won’t be calling any for a while,” Belichick said. “[McDaniels will] be hard to replace, but I feel like we have really good coaches on our staff. … Everybody will have a defined role, like they always do. The offseason is the offseason and once we get on the field coaching players, game-planning and things that, it will all work itself out.”