Joe Judge enters his third season as the special teams coach, following three seasons as the assistant special teams coach. Judge was promoted to the position following the retirement of Scott O'Brien from coaching in 2015.
Patriots special teams units have enjoyed successful seasons in Judge's first five years with New England. Under Judge's guidance, his kickoff team lead the AFC in kickoff drive start and finished third in the NFL in 2016, while finishing second in the league in drive start in 2015. Additionally, the kickoff return team finished seventh in the NFL in kickoff return drive start and fourth in the AFC in 2016. His punt teams have enjoyed similar success, finishing second in the NFL in punt coverage and second in opponents return average. As a punt returner, WR Danny Amendola lead the entire NFL in punt return average in 2015 while averaging 12-yard per return. Having worked with Judge since 2012, WR Julian Edelman has become one of the most efficient punt returners in the NFL. In 2012, Edelman averaged 15.5 yards per return while being limited by injury to only 17 punt returns that season. Edelman has become second all-time in Patriots history with a career punt return average of 11.7 yards, which also places him tied for eighth all-time in the NFL for punt return average. Likewise, Judge has overseen some standout kickoff return performances. In 2016, RB Dion Lewis scored on the longest kickoff return touchdown in team postseason history with a 98-yard return for a touchdown vs. Houston in the AFC Divisional Playoff. In 2015, WR Keshawn Martin had the longest kickoff return in the AFC with his 75-yard return vs. Tennessee. In the 2016 postseason, DB Jonathon Jones finished tied for first in the NFL in postseason special teams tackles.
In addition to K Stephen Gostkowski leading the NFL in scoring for four of the past five seasons under Judge's tutelage, Gostkowski was also elected to the Pro Bowl in 2013, 2014 and 2015, with all three seasons producing his highest field goal accuracy to date. With 151 points in 2015, Gostkowski became one of three players to lead the league in scoring for at least five seasons and became the first player in NFL history with four seperate 150-point seasons all under Judge's guidance. Gostkowski has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week four times and AFC Special Teams Player of the Month twice, while P Ryan Allen has earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice while working with Judge. Additionally, under Judge's tutelage Ryan Allen has become the Patriots all-time leader in punt average with a 45.7 career average. As a rookie in 2013, Allen set a Patriots rookie record with his 39.9 net average on punts and in 2016 finished second in the AFC in net punt average. Additionally, Matthew Slater was selected to his sixth straight Pro Bowl as a special teamer in 2016 and earned Associated Press First Team: All-Pro honors for the first time in his career, while Nate Ebner tied for the NFL lead in special teams tackles. Slater and Ebner were also the only two special teams players in the entire NFL to be selected to the All-Pro team.
In Judge's first season in 2012, New England led the NFL in extra points and finished second in punt return yards and fewest punt return yards allowed. In 2013, the Patriots finished tied for most field goals made and field goal percentage. Last season, the field goal unit led the league in field goals made and was second in field goal percentage. In his first five years in New England, Judge's field goal block unit has the second-most blocked field goals across the entire NFL with seven blocked field goals.
Judge came to the Patriots after a three-year stint at the University of Alabama as a football analyst under coach Nick Saban. While on the Alabama staff, Judge was a member of two National Championship teams in 2009 and 2011 and assisted with the special teams units. At Alabama, Judge's special teams units were honored with a First-Team All American kicker and Groza Award finalist (Leigh Tiffin, 2009), a First-Team All American return specialist (Javier Arenas, 2009), an SEC All-Freshman team punter (Cody Mandell, 2010) and a returner who finished his career ranked second all-time in NCAA return yards (Javier Arenas).
Prior to going to Alabama, Judge spent one season at Birmingham-Southern where he served as special teams/linebackers coach in 2008. He began his coaching career at Mississippi State as a graduate assistant under Sylvester Croom from 2005-07. While at Mississippi State, Judge tutored a freshman All-SEC punter, five All-SEC linebackers and a returner who finished as the all-time SEC leader in career return yards and kickoff return yards.
Judge played for Mississippi State from 2000-04, earning three letters. He was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll and made the Dean's List.
Judge played quarterback and strong safety during a four-year high school career at Landsdale (Pa.) Catholic High School under Jim Algeo. He was named All-Area as a junior and senior.
He was born Dec. 31, 1981, in Philadelphia, Pa. His father, Joseph, played football at Temple and professionally with the Hamilton Tigercats of the CFL. He is currently working on his PhD in education. Judge's wife, Amber, was an All-SEC soccer player at Mississippi State, and they have four children together - Sean, Michael, Emma Riley and Ella Grace.