The first pieces are starting to fall into place for the puzzle that is the New England Patriots’ 2022 coaching staff, and Cam Achord can probably feel good about one of the recent developments: the team announced on Tuesday that it hired former New York Giants head coach Joe Judge as on offensive assistant.
Why would this be good news for Achord? Because the Patriots could very well have brought Judge back into the fold to take over the job of special teams coordinator he held between 2015 and 2019 — one that is currently occupied by Achord.
Achord served as assistant special teams coach under Judge in 2018 and 2019. He then took over the coordinator position himself when it opened up due to Judge’s departure to New York. The Patriots’ kicking game unit had a very good first season with Achord at the helm and saw two of its players named to the first All-Pro team, but it struggled in 2021 which in turn led to questions about the 35-year-old.
New England surrendered a league-high four blocked kicks during the season, including one that was returned for a touchdown. As opposed to 2020, when punter Jake Bailey and punt returner Gunner Olszewski were announced as first-team All-Pros, the unit had no such selections in 2021.
While not all was bad for the Patriots — they ranked in the top five in starting field position on both offense and defense, in part due to their kick coverage and return teams — the miscues were noteworthy. And with Judge available after he was fired by the Giants, the future of Achord and his own assistant, Joe Houston, appeared to be very much in question.
A change could still happen at one point during the offseason. However, the fact that Judge was brought back to work with the offense rather than take over a role on special teams can be seen as a positive for Achord and Houston.
On top of that, having another coach with considerable special teams experience on the staff is no bad thing either. While his primary responsibilities will lie elsewhere, Judge will be available as a source of knowledge for Achord.