Feels like Joe Judge could return to New England, along with other Patriots coaching thoughts

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The Off Day Podcast
The Off Day, Ep. 211: Discussing Patriots' loss to Bills, looking ahead to offseason
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The Patriots coaching staff has been a major topic following the season and for a variety of reasons. Those include potential departures, retirements, questioning roles on the staff, potential additions, and more.

Over the course of the season a number of uncharacteristic mistakes were made, which fall back on the coaching staff — special teams miscues, too many men on the field, bad pre-snap penalties, etc.

Some have speculated that Bill Belichick has been stretched too thin with so many assistants departing in recent years and now too many young and experienced coaches on the staff. Along these lines, bringing in someone who has a lot of experience would be advantageous not only for Belichick, but the team as a whole.

Fortunately for them, there may be someone available and looking for work: Joe Judge.

Judge was obviously fired by the Giants after two seasons, and prior to that spent the previous eight years in New England working his way from special teams assistant to special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach.

The Patriots could do a similar thing with Judge that they’re currently doing with Matt Patricia and have done in the past with Bret Bielema and others, which is bring in a coach who is still being paid by another organization. Patricia is being paid by the Lions through 2022, while Judge will be paid by the Giants for three more years. Therefore, New England wouldn’t need to worry about paying Judge all that much.

Bringing Judge back wouldn't necessarily mean special teams coordinator Cam Achord gets fired and he takes over his old unit. It could mean Judge getting a title similar to what Patricia had this past season as “senior football advisor.”

Belichick has always talked about how much more knowledge a coach has after being a head coach, and maybe Judge returns to New England and helps in all areas — offense, defense and special teams.

Right now it seems like the Patriots are lacking authority on the coaching staff and bringing in someone like Judge would help change that. And for Judge personally, this feels like the right move as where else is he going to go?

Sure, he could do nothing while still be getting paid by the Giants, but if he wants another shot as a head coach he needs to work his way back up. Returning to New England and working under Belichick again feels like the first step.

Here are a few other thoughts relating to the Patriots coaching staff…

— Jerod Mayo has already been requested by a few teams for head-coaching interviews, and Josh McDaniels could be next. With that being said, it feels like Mayo has a better chance of leaving than McDaniels. If Mayo does leave, would the Patriots consider moving Patricia back to defensive coordinator? Patricia certainly has his faults, but he’s had a great deal of success with the Patriots in the past. And while Steve Belichick has called the defensive plays the last few years, he’s not the defensive coordinator, so technically he wouldn’t be getting a demotion.

— If McDaniels leaves, it would be a humongous blow to the coaching staff. There isn’t a coach on that side of the ball who is a natural fit to take over as offensive coordinator, so the team would likely need to look outside the organization. At least if Mayo departs, there isn’t that big of a role to replace, especially with Patricia already on staff.

— It certainly feels like running backs coach Ivan Fears will be retiring at age 67. The Patriots have seemed to be planning for this to happen as both Troy Brown and Vinnie Sunseri have worked with the running backs in recent seasons. While the Patriots will be able to replace him, it continues a trend of Belichick losing some of his longest-tenured members on staff.

— The bulk of the blame from Saturday’s loss to the Bills has fallen on the defensive coaching staff. Yes, they deserve some blame for not having the players ready to go, but the players cannot be ignored. Several key players had their worst games in recent memory, and also due to COVID, the Patriots were forced to start Joejuan Williams at cornerback. Trying to have Williams and Myles Bryant matchup with the Bills’ talented receiving core just isn’t going to work no matter what the game plan was. Maybe we’re putting a little too much blame on the coaching staff and not enough on the players. Also relating to Steve Belichick, it seems a bit unfair when things go right Bill gets all the credit, but when things go wrong it's on him.