6. Joe Judge, New England Patriots special teams coordinator/wide receivers coach
Interviewed: Monday, 1/6/20
Bit of an unusual candidate as a special teams coach, yes, but Joe Judge is interesting without a doubt. Judge is only 38 and has commanded a vaunted Patriots special teams unit that has ranked in the top 10 in special teams DVOA three out of the five years he’s been coordinator and the top half of the NFL all five years.
Special teams DVOA(defense adjusted over average) is a Football Outsiders metric rating the total effectiveness of a special teams unit, taking into account all elements; punting, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return, kicking and field goal block. Judge also took on wide receiver coach duties in 2019, helping receiver Julian Edelman achieve a career-high in receiving yards with 1,117 and 100 receptions, his most since 2013.
Judge being a special teams coordinator is a bit unusual considering most head coaches come from offense or defense, but he would not be the first. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick are all of the active head coaches that had primarily special teams coaching roles in their career.
Harbaugh is the only one of the three to have been hired as a head coach directly after a role that primarily included coaching special teams, but with eight playoff appearances, three AFC championship game appearances and one Super Bowl win, Harbaugh has done alright in his career. The question is whether Harbaugh is the exception.
Belichick does have a good opinion of Judge, saying “He’s an excellent coach,” in the week of the Patriots loss to the Titans. He also said he would feel comfortable with Judge coaching a variety of roles on offense, defense or special teams.
I personally do not believe the NY Giants will hire Judge, but are vetting him out for another position potentially. It was expected that Judge was going to follow Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to Indianapolis had he not spurned the Colts and left, so the Giants are likely getting Judge in the building to try to get at McDaniels.
It also does not hurt cover a lot of ground in the coaching search, which is what the Giants will try to do when they interview Judge.