Apparently, Mac Jones has a new best friend.
Joe Judge revealed Monday that he’ll be helping Jones as the second-year quarterback — and the rest of the Patriots offense — adjusts to life beyond Josh McDaniels.
Judge served as New England’s special teams coordinator and receivers coach prior to his two-year stint as the Giants head coach.
“I’ll give you a direct answer right there, not to be evasive on anything,” said Judge, talking to reporters for the first time since returning to Foxborough in February. “I am working with Mac as well as some other people on the offense. I’m working with all the skill groups on the offense.
“I would say all of us are working collectively as a coaching unit to work with the entire offense. So that’s the most direct and specific answer I can give you on that. In terms of who’s coaching each position, you’ll see me on the field with the quarterbacks.”
Judge, 40, carries the title of offensive assistant. He has never coached quarterbacks at any level, though he did play the position in high school and at Mississippi State.
Judge, Matt Patricia, and tight ends coach Nick Caley are among the candidates who could assume the offensive play-calling duties, something McDaniels did the last 10 seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“I’ll tell you directly and honestly right now: Nothing’s been declared or decided or voiced to me,” Judge said. “I know Matt’s going to be the other one who gets asked or Nick Caley.
“Look, we’re all just working drills and skills. We’re working offensively. I do think it’s critical for every coach on offense to understand the offense and be prepared as a play-caller. If you’re not really looking and approaching the game as a play-caller, I think it’s tough to really teach the game plan, if that makes sense.”
Judge made it clear that titles are not “the main focus” right now and “when Coach [Bill] Belichick wants us to go ahead and declare a role like that, he’ll tell us.”
Belichick had the same message at the league meetings, saying he’s “not big on titles” and he considers both Judge and Patricia excellent coaches. Patricia said Monday he has been working with the offensive linemen.
The offensive staff has undergone a major overhaul in the offseason with receivers coach Mick Lombardi, assistant QB coach Bo Hardegree, and line coach Carmen Bricillo joining McDaniels in Las Vegas. Additionally, the status of longtime running backs coach Ivan Fears is unknown after he hinted at retirement last season.
Troy Brown (receivers), Vinnie Sunseri (running backs), and Ross Douglass (line) may be in line for promotions.
Judge said the spring is all about getting everyone on the same page and working as one unit.
“It’s important right now for all of our coaches to be able to coach all the skill players, or for that matter the line players, as well, as we go through this [offseason program],” he said. “As we divide up and we go to two- and three-spot drills, it’s important that, if it’s a ball-handling drill and Vinnie Sunseri is running it, that he can coach the quarterbacks as well.”
The Patriots, who held a rookie minicamp over the weekend, are in Phase 2 of the offseason program. The first organized team activity practice is slated for next Monday.
“It’s been a main emphasis for us as a coaching staff that we want to make sure we can all coach the players and that nobody is out there with a lack of knowledge in the offense,” Judge said.
On the defensive side, things likely will look the same as last season, when linebacker coaches Steve Belichick (inside) and Jerod Mayo (outside) split defensive coordinator duties. Steve Belichick called the plays and Mayo ran team meetings.
Asked if he’ll be the defensive coordinator this season, Belichick said, “It’s a fair question that I don’t have the answer to. If I am, great. If I’m not, that’s good, too.”
Mayo sounded a similar refrain.
“Honestly, I just like to say I’m a football coach,” he said. “Not trying to be ambiguous here. I just like to say I’m a football coach. I coach football players. I’m a teacher and I’m trying to get guys better each and every day.”
. . .
The Patriots waived quarterback D’Eriq King and cornerback Devin Hafford, both of whom had signed as undrafted rookies . . . The club signed sixth-round draft pick Chasen Hines, a guard, and seventh-round draft pick Andrew Stueber, an offensive tackle . . . In addition, undrafted rookie long snapper Ross Reiter was signed.