Joe Judge may call plays for Patriots after moving ‘past’ Giants firing

Joe Judge may call plays for Patriots after moving ‘past’ Giants firing

Maybe Joe Judge really wasn’t kidding when he included himself as a possibility to take over offensive play-calling for the Giants after firing coordinator Jason Garrett during the middle of last season.

Seven months later, the surprisingly fired former Giants head coach is in line to coach quarterbacks and possibly call plays for the New England Patriots in his role as a nondescript offensive assistant. Mac Jones is entering his pivotal second year of development as the Patriots quarterback.

“In terms of who is coaching each position, you’ll see me on the field with the quarterbacks,” Judge told reporters Thursday in his first interview since rejoining the Patriots for a second stint (2012-19). “I am working with Mac, along with all the skill group on offense. I’d say all of us are working collectively as a coaching unit with the entire offense. We’ll be meeting together as a skill group, and we’ll break off into individual meetings.”

Most of Judge’s coaching background is on special teams. He added receivers to his résumé in 2019 — his final season before he was hired to lead the Giants.

Ex-Giants coach Joe Judge could end up calling plays for the Patriots this season.

The Patriots did not hire an offensive coordinator to replace new Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels. The favorites to call plays appear to be Judge and former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia, whose background is in defense.

“Look, I’ll tell you directly and honestly right now, nothing has been declared or decided or voiced to me,” Judge said. “In terms of who calls plays, to be honest with you, that’s not the main focus right now. When Coach [Bill Belichick] wants to go ahead and declare a role like that, he’ll tell us.”

The irony is that the ineptitude of the Giants’ offense is arguably the biggest reason Judge was fired. The Giants averaged 17.2 points per game in 26 games with Garrett as the play-caller, and Judge said that “everything is on the table” in the aftermath of making the in-season change.

The idea of Judge calling the plays seemed like a stretch at the time — just a wrinkle that might force an opponent to prepare for more and create a competitive advantage. The Giants went with a staff-collaborative approach that sounds similar to what the Patriots are trying.

In hindsight, Judge probably should’ve tried his hand because results bottomed out when Freddie Kitchens wore the headset and quarterback Daniel Jones was injured: The Giants failed to top 10 points five times during a season-ending six-game losing streak.

“I’m very appreciative of the players and the effort they gave me for two years there,” Judge said when asked to reflect on his time with the Giants. “I’m very excited to be back here now. That’s where my focus is. Anything going backwards, to be honest with you, I’m past that.”

Judge singled out Daniel Jones when explaining how his head-coach experience offered a big-picture view of making the puzzle pieces fit.

Joe Judge talks with Daniel Jones.

“I appreciated the work Daniel did for us when I was in New York,” Judge said. “I really enjoyed all the time I got to work with him. As a head coach, you have a lot of interaction with the quarterback to make sure they feel comfortable with the game plan and the game plan is playing to their strengths so they can play aggressive.”

Judge said that he evaluated Mac Jones during the 2021 draft, even though the Giants weren’t in the market for the quarterback. Then the Giants and Patriots held joint practices during training camp.

“I liked the way he handled and commanded the huddle and the team last year when we practiced against them,” Judge said. “Not the completions, incompletions, whatever it may be. It was just seeing him interact.

“I had the opportunity to listen to both huddles and when he stepped in the huddle you could hear a command and you could see the players’ eyes on him. That’s something that stood out to me when you walked off the field in terms of, ‘OK, they are going to be all right with this young guy.’ ”

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