New England Patriots

Senior football advisor Matt Patricia of the New England Patriots stands on the field before their game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

After losing four offensive coaching assistants over the last few weeks, the Patriots are reportedly beginning the process of putting their staff back together. Roles are being assigned as the team gets ready to head into the player personnel portion of the offseason.

In his weekly MMQB column, SI’s Albert Breer touched on new areas of focus for Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. Both have been at the center of speculation around the team’s re-worked coaching staff, having held coordinator-level positions under Bill Belichick in the past – although neither on the offensive side of the ball.

According to Breer, Judge is “expected to work with the quarterbacks” although he doesn’t go as far as calling him a defined quarterbacks coach. Josh McDaniels and Bo Hardegree split the QB coach job last season. That duo is now in Las Vegas with the Raiders.

Judge first joined the Patriots as a special teams assistant in 2012, and was promoted to coordinator in 2015. His lone experience coaching offense came in 2019, when he had ‘wide receivers coach’ added to his title along with special teams coordinator. He was hired as the head coach of the New York Giants in 2020, but was fired last month and returned to New England in what was defined at the time as an ‘offensive assistant’ role.

Patricia is “expected” to work with the offensive line, although again Breer stops short of naming a title. Last year’s offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo followed McDaniels to Las Vegas. His assistant, former NFL guard Billy Yates, remains with the team and has been viewed as a potential replacement for the official role.

Unlike Judge, Patricia does have prior experience with his new position. His first jobs with the Patriots in 2004 and 2005 involved coaching the offensive line in an assistant role before he moved to defense in 2006. Patricia was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator from 2012-2017 before a three-year stint as the head coach of the Detroit Lions. He returned to New England last season as a ‘senior football advisor.’

Breer didn’t say whether Judge or Patricia would take over the offensive play-calling duties, another question that needs to be addressed following McDaniels’ departure. However, he did mention two experienced NFL play callers who have been linked to the Patriots may not be in the picture at this point, writing “for what it’s worth, I’ve heard the Patriots haven’t so much as talked to Adam Gase about their OC opening, and things have been quiet on the Bill O’Brien front as well.” Judge and last year’s tight ends coach Nick Caley, who remains with the team, have been suggested as internal candidates to fill the de facto OC role.

There’s still work for the Patriots to do in terms of their offensive coaching staff. Here’s a full rundown of the coaches they’ve lost and are expected to lose from last year’s group…

Patriots may need to replace over half of offensive coaching staff

  • This offseason has seen the Patriots offensive coaching staff shaken up in a major way. It began with the Raiders hiring former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who then took three assistants with him to Las Vegas. There is a potential retirement on the way as well, adding up to five of the nine primary offensive coaches from last season not being back in the building next year.

    The 2021 staff took many players new to the system – including a rookie quarterback – and built a unit that ranked six in scoring in the NFL. Who from that group won’t be or likely won’t be returning in 2022? Here’s a look…

  • Josh McDaniels

    Jul 30, 2021; Foxborough, MA, United States; New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reacts during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    McDaniels, of course, highlights the group of departures this offseason. The former offensive coordinator turned Raiders head coach has been a part of the Patriots for almost the entire Bill Belichick era. Originally hired as a personnel assistant in 2001, McDaniels first defined coaching job with the Patriots was on the defensive side of the ball  as a defensive assistant in 2002 and 2003.

    It wasn’t until his fourth year that McDaniels became a part of the offensive coaching staff, when he was named the quarterbacks coach in 2004. Two years later, he had offensive coordinator added to his title, a role he held until leaving to coach the Denver Broncos in 2009. After a quick stop in St. Louis, McDaniels returned as the Patriots’ OC in 2012 and had held that role since.

  • Mick Lombardi

    Lombardi is getting a bump in title as he heads to Vegas with McDaniels. The Patriots’ wide receivers coach in 2020 and 2021, Lombardi will be the offensive coordinator with the Raiders in 2022.

    Lombardi’s NFL career began with the Patriots’ scouting department in 2011. In 2013, he left for a coaching role with the San Francisco 49ers, and later the New York Jets. He returned to the Patriots in 2019 as the assistant quarterbacks coach before moving to receivers the next year. Lombardi coached receivers with Troy Brown in 2021, making Brown a candidate to fill the role entirely in 2022.

  • Carmen Bricillo

    The Patriots will see a change with their offensive line coaching situation for the fourth straight offseason, as Bricillo heads to Vegas to be the Raiders’ offensive line coach. After spending 13 years coaching in college, Bricillo joined New England’s staff in 2019 as a coaching assistant.

    The next year, following the retirement of Dante Scarnecchia, he was named co-offensive line coach alongside Cole Popovich. Bricillo had ‘co’ dropped from the title when Popovich left the team before the 2021 season. Current assistant offensive line coach Billy Yates, who joined the Patriots last year, is a candidate to replace him.

  • Bo Hardegree

    After bouncing around the NFL as a quarterbacks coach and offensive assistant from 2014-2020, Hardegree was given both titles in New England in 2021. As the co-quarterbacks coach with McDaniels, he worked with Mac Jones during his successful rookie season. Hardegree will now work with Derek Carr as the Raiders’ quarterbacks coach.

  • Ivan Fears

    Dec 2, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears celebrates a win over the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 2, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears celebrates a win over the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    Although it’s not official yet, multiple reports have indicated Fears plans to retire at some point this offseason. The 67-year-old is one of the few staffers who has been with the Patriots longer than Belichick – he first worked for the team as a receivers coach in 1991 and 1992, then after a short stint with the Chicago Bears returned to that job in 1999 before taking over his current job as running backs coach in 2002. Vinnie Sunseri was the Patriots’ assistant running backs coach last year, and wide receivers coach Troy Brown has experience coaching the position as well.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.