Matt Patricia absorbed plenty of public criticism for the New England Patriots' struggles on offense in 2022. But Joe Judge apparently took his fair share of heat behind the scenes.
A report from the Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan and Karen Guregian about the Patriots' offensive dysfunction last season is not flattering to Judge; one source told the Herald that quarterback Mac Jones "didn't like" Judge "at all," while another source claimed the quarterbacks coach "rubbed people the wrong way" by "speak(ing) extra loudly in meetings, trying to project like he was the guy."
So, what does the future hold for Judge? Will he transition to a new role in New England with Bill O'Brien taking over his quarterbacks coach responsibilities, or will he leave the team completely? Our Phil Perry joined Tom E. Curran on a new Patriots Talk Podcast to discuss what's next for Judge, who reportedly will join members of the Patriots' coaching staff later this week at the 2023 Shrine Bowl.
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"There are a lot of questions going into this week," Perry told Curran. "I know there was a feeling in the building going into this week that Matt Patricia would not be with the team in 2023; that hadn't yet been communicated to anyone, but that was the feeling. ... With Joe Judge, there were questions there as well.
"Would he be moving back to special teams and maybe working with (special teams coordinator) Cam Achord? It's my understanding that Cam Achord will be with the team in 2023, and he's making the trip out to Vegas for the Shrine Bowl as well. Would Bill Belichick ask Joe Judge to go back to special teams? Would Joe Judge even want to do that after being a head coach and a quarterbacks coach and trying to get back on that head coaching track?"
Judge was New England's special teams coordinator from 2015 to 2019 before a failed two-year stint as the New York Giants' head coach in 2020 and 2021. Going from head coach to special teams assistant in a span of three years would be quite the demotion for Judge, but as Perry noted, he's unlikely to play a significant role in the Patriots' offense based on how things unfolded last season.
"I think if Joe Judge is still around and he's in a real important role offensively, that to me would be a problem," Perry noted. "But if it's Bill Belichick and he hands the offense to Bill O'Brien, I think you've got two guys there that would have a lot of trust right off the bat."
Curran also shared a story from Judge's first stint with the Patriots that adds some context to how some Patriots players may feel about Judge.
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"In 2019, when Judge was the Patriots' special teams and wide receivers coach, I related a story in which there was a player who got so frustrated with Judge and basically said, 'Look, you don't know what you're talking about. You don't know how to coach wide receivers.' And that caused a dust-up and the player got some disciplining for it," Curran said.
"I also had related to me by someone in the league that Joe is a good coach and a good guy, but he has a tendency to overpromise, and he has such a swagger about him that you're convinced that he's got it down. And then you go to the situation that he's supposed to be working on, and you're like, 'You're not ready.'
"So as much as I have enjoyed my interpersonal contacts with Joe Judge, I think there is an exuberance and a confidence and a swagger that doesn't match up with the level of performance that he gives you as a coach, plainly speaking.
"That's where he ended up forfeiting the trust of Mac Jones. If you've got a lot of bluster, you better be able to bring some substance, too."
To hear more from Curran and Perry on the level of dysfunction in New England last season and whether that will impact the players' trust in Belichick, subscribe to the Patriots Talk Podcast, or watch on YouTube below.