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Resetting the Patriots’ offensive coaching staff with Joe Judge back in the fold

Related: Patriots officially re-hire Joe Judge as an offensive assistant

NFL: NOV 25 Patriots at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ offensive coaching staff for the 2022 season is starting to take shape. After the departures of long-time coordinator Josh McDaniels and assistant quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree to the Las Vegas Raiders, the team brought in former New York Giants head coach Joe Judge as an offensive assistant.

Judge is no stranger to the Patriots, having been with them between 2012 and 2019 — the last of those seasons coaching the wide receiver on top of his usual responsibilities as special teams coordinator. Now, Judge is back, and as a result the offensive staff looks as follows at the moment:

Offensive coordinator: N/A. One of the biggest questions for the Patriots this season is how to replace Josh McDaniels. The leading candidate at the moment appears to be Alabama OC and former New England assistant Bill O’Brien, with former NFL head coach Adam Gase and tight ends coach Nick Caley also seen as potential options. Of course, the team could also head into 2022 without naming an official coordinator. Either way, Judge’s addition gives the team some flexibility atop the unit.

Quarterbacks: N/A. Besides his responsibilities as offensive coordinator, McDaniels also coached the quarterback group. Assistant Bo Hardegree followed him to Las Vegas, meaning that the team will have to completely rebuild its staff supporting the most important position in the sport and second-year QB Mac Jones in particular.

Running backs: Ivan Fears. As of today, Ivan Fears officially remains with the Patriots. However, the expectation is that the veteran coach will head off into retirement soon. At age 67 and as the owner of six Super Bowl rings, Fears certainly has earned it. The leading candidate to replace him is already on the staff, namely...

Running backs: Vinnie Sunseri. Despite having spent his playing and previous coaching career on defense and special teams, the Patriots moved Sunseri to the offensive side of the ball to assist Fears as running backs coach in 2021. He is the natural candidate to take over

Wide receivers: Mick Lombardi. A dark-horse candidate to become New England’s next offensive coordinator, Lombardi is coming off his third season on the Patriots’ coaching staff. He worked as assistant quarterbacks coach under McDaniels in 2019 but worked with the wide receivers the last two seasons. The belief is that he will not go back to the QBs and instead keep coaching the wideouts.

Wide receivers/Kick returners: Troy Brown. The legendary Patriots wideout and three-time world champion worked with the running backs in 2020 and the receivers in 2021 — both years also assisting New England’s kick returners. He could also help replace Ivan Fears once his retirement becomes official.

Tight ends/Fullbacks: Nick Caley. With McDaniels gone and Fears headed for retirement, Caley will be the longest-tenured assistant on the offensive side of the ball — and a possible candidate to one day take over as coordinator. He originally joined the team in 2015 in an assistant role and has been coaching tight ends since 2017.

Offensive line: Carmen Bricillo. Originally an assistant under Dante Scarnecchia in 2019, Bricillo was promoted to co-offensive line coach alongside Cole Popovich the following year. Last season, he took over as the sole O-line coach and led the unit to a solid performance. Bricillo is not going anywhere.

Assistant offensive line: Billy Yates. A former NFL offensive lineman himself, Yates arrived in New England last year: he joined the team from Detroit alongside senior football advisor Matt Patricia and analyst Evan Rothstein, serving as Bricillo’s assistant in 2021.

Offensive assistant: Tyler Hughes. After two years coaching at the high school level, Hughes made the jump to the NFL last season. He worked as an assistant on the offensive side of the ball throughout 2021.

Offensive assistant: Joe Judge. Finally, Joe Judge. The former special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the Giants, will officially carry the same title as Tyler Hughes. However, the expectation is that he will play a more active role as far as day-to-day operations are concerned. He will likely gather experience all over the offense, possibly to take over as coordinator further down the line.

As can be seen, the Patriots’ offensive staff is far from complete. The coordinator and quarterback positions are still open, while Cole Popovich’s future is in question as well: the former co-offensive line coach left the team in 2021 due to Covid-19 protocols.