Matthew Slater broke a bit of news Monday during a conference call with New England reporters.
The Patriots lost their special teams coordinator when Joe Judge left to become head coach of the New York Giants, and Slater all but confirmed that Cam Achord — Judge’s lieutenant for the past two seasons — has been promoted to take his place.
“A lot of us have some familiarity with Cam, and we’re really comfortable with his coaching style,” said Slater, New England’s longtime special teams captain. “We know how he likes to call the game. We know that he’s going to have the same expectations of us that have always been had of us around here, and that’s pride yourself on working hard, pride yourself on doing your job the right way, pride yourself on being a selfless team player and don’t expect anything to be handed to you.
“And I think Cam’s going to coach us in that same style. Certainly, when we get into games, we’ll see how he calls games differently. That’ll be a learning process, and I’m sure there will be a lot of dialogue between him and players from now until the time we play. I’m excited about the transition. It’s a new challenge for all of us. It’s a new year. Every team, every player has to prove himself over again, and that’s exciting. I know Cam is up for the challenge, and I know he’s going to lead us in the right way.”
Achord, a former college safety at Bellhaven University in Mississippi, joined the Patriots’ staff in 2018 after coaching stints at Southern Miss and Southern Mississippi Community College. He’ll be assisted this season by newcomer Joe Houston, a kicking specialist who previously coached at Alabama and Iowa State.
Despite the Patriots’ familiarity with Achord, Slater acknowledged the change in leadership will come with an adjustment period — one that’s been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic that threatens to cancel offseason programs around the NFL
“It’s going to be challenging, I think,” Slater said. “Right now, we’re looking at the possibility of not having an offseason and all, so I think some of that acclimation process is going to have to be on the fly whenever it is that we’re able to return to work.”
In addition to Judge, the Patriots also lost two of their longest-tenured special teamers this offseason, cutting kicker Stephen Gostkowski and watching Nate Ebner sign with Judge’s Giants in free agency. They’ve since signed two safeties with strong special teams backgrounds in Adrian Phillips and Cody Davis but have yet to address their vacancy at kicker.