Joe Judge gets a title change – and a new coaching focus – for Patriots in 2023


After a failed attempt at offensive coaching in 2022, Joe Judge is getting rewarded with a new title and more responsibilities.

Sports Illustrated NFL writer Albert Breer reported Thursday that Judge would be named assistant head coach and would transition from offense to helping with special teams – the unit he coached from 2012-2019 with the Patriots.

The role will also apparently include some elements of working with personnel and scouting, according to a follow-up tweet by Breer.

Though Judge does not seem as if he will be as involved with personnel decisions and signings as Matt Patricia was in 2021 – Patricia actually had his name on player contracts – the re-assignment is nonetheless a significant one.

For one, it puts him back with a position group he’s had clear success with, which also happens to be an area the team badly needs to improve after two subpar special teams seasons in 2021 and 2022. Though Bill Belichick apparently likes Cam Achord enough to keep him around, the head coach isn’t taking it for granted that Achord will markedly improve this year.

But it also functionally does grant Judge a promotion from his nebulous “offensive assistant” position in 2022, in which he served as the de facto quarterbacks coach, that one could argue he doesn’t deserve.

Giving him the assistant head coach title is probably the only way to thread the needle of making sure the Giants continue paying Judge’s salary and not insulting him by just making him a “special teams assistant” under Achord, who used to be Judge’s understudy, while keeping Judge’s expertise in the building. But giving him the first assistant head coach title since Dante Scarnecchia held that nominal position from 2009-2013 feels…wrong.

It also raises questions about Jerod Mayo’s role, given that the linebackers coach was presumed to be a candidate for an assistant head coaching title bump when the team renewed his contract this off-season.

On one hand, teams can have more than one assistant head coach, and the title might not matter as much as whatever quiet assurances he’s been given by the Krafts about his future in New England.

But one wonders if it would still rankle a bit to see the Patriots allowing Judge to fail upward just because he’s cheap and can coach special teams better than Achord.

In any case, Judge appears to be here to stay – at least until his New York Giants money runs out in 2024. As long as he’s not another person potentially impeding Mayo’s path to eventually taking over for Bill Belichick, perhaps it’s not that big a deal.

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