Patriots Might Not Hire Official Josh McDaniels Replacement For 2022

New England could go without an official OC next season

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Who will replace Josh McDaniels as the New England Patriots’ new offensive coordinator? The answer to that question could be “nobody.”

After news broke Tuesday of Joe Judge’s impending return to New England as an offensive assistant, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported the Patriots “may not hire” an official OC.

“The addition of Joe Judge gives them added leadership on offense and allowed them to move some responsibilities around,” Rapoport tweeted.

If that is the case, Judge would become the favorite to take over play-calling duties from McDaniels, who left to take a head-coaching job with the Las Vegas Raiders. That’s a risky proposition for New England, especially with rising sophomore quarterback Mac Jones at a pivotal stage in his NFL development.

Judge never was involved in offensive play-calling duties until late in his two-year stint as New York Giants head coach, when he introduced what he called a “collaboration” approach after firing OC Jason Garrett. During that period, he faced widespread ridicule for calling back-to-back quarterback sneaks near the Giants’ own goal line in Week 18.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gave Judge increased offensive responsibilities during the final year of his New England tenure, however, having the 40-year-old coach both special teams and wide receivers in 2019. A report that year from Ben Volin of The Boston Globe suggested the Patriots were grooming Judge as their offensive coordinator of the future.

The kicking game was Judge’s primary focus in New England. He served as the Patriots’ special teams coordinator for five seasons (2015-19) and as a special teams assistant for three more (2012-14).

“He’s done a great job with the kicking game, and he’s expanded the role a little bit,” Belichick said late in the 2019 season. “That’s kind of had a little bit of a ripple effect in the way we’ve organized the kicking game, but that’s all worked out pretty efficiently. And Joe has done a great job of organizing that as well as taking on some other things with the offense, in particular receivers, so he’s done a great job. He’s an excellent coach.”

Belichick had similar praise for Judge last summer when the Giants visited Gillette Stadium for a set of joint practices.

“Joe’s a good football coach,” he said. “Period. All the things that a good coach needs to do, Joe does.”

It’s unclear how the Patriots plan to structure their offensive staff following McDaniels’ departure. This season, they had Mick Lombardi coaching receivers, Nick Caley working with tight ends/fullbacks, Carmen Bricillo and assistant Billy Yates handling the offensive line, and Ivan Fears and Vinnie Sunseri coaching running backs.

Fears reportedly is expected to retire this offseason, and assistant quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree is joining McDaniels in Las Vegas. Judge is a former quarterback but has not coached the position.

Bill O’Brien and Adam Gase have been mentioned as potential external McDaniels replacements, as multiple reports indicated the Patriots would prefer to hire an experienced play-caller from outside the organization. Rapoport last week reported the Patriots and O’Brien — who currently is OC at Alabama — had “mutual interest” in a reunion.

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