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Special teams coach Joe Judge reiterates Patriots’ faith in kicker Stephen Gostkowski: ‘He’s our guy’ 11.03.16 at 7:56 pm ET
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Stephen Gostkowski was perfect Sunday against the Bills. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Stephen Gostkowski was perfect Sunday against the Bills. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Special teams coach Joe Judge has faith that kicker Stephen Gostkowski is going to get back to his old self sooner rather than later.

Judge publicly backed the kicker this week, despite the fact that Gostkowski is having an uncharacteristically inconsistent season. After missing three field-goal attempts and no extra-point tries during the 2015 regular season, Gostkowski has missed three field-attempts and a pair of extra-points this year through eight games.

But count Judge as among those who believe that his perfect afternoon last Sunday (2-for-2 on field-goal tries — including an impressive 51-yarder — and 5-for-5 on extra points) is a sign that things are back on track for the veteran kicker.

“Man, we’re very excited for Steve,” said Judge. “I’ll tell you what; nobody works harder than Steve. Nobody prepares better than Steve. We have all the confidence in the world in Steve. He’s done it consistently for so long in this league. There is nobody I’d rather play with.

“He’s our guy.”

Gostkowski success rate this year (11-for-14) is good for most kickers, but for the four-time All-Pro, it’s a step down from his usual totals. After all, this is a guy who still ranks third all-time in league history with a success rate of 86.9 percent — he’s got a higher standard than most. That’s one of the reasons why some believe Gostkowski is capable of figuring things out, and whether his misses have been mental or physical.

“Look, I’m not going into the specifics or anything like that, I’ll just tell you what — no one outworks Stephen,” Judge said of the 32-year-old. “He’s very committed to his craft [and] he’s always looking to improve in everything he does, as we all are.”

Bill Belichick has acknowledged that when it comes to working with kickers, because what they do is so specialized, sometimes, the best thing for a coach to do is just step back a bit. Bottom line? You can’t coach a kicker like another position player.

“I’ve coached kickers for a long time and the first thing you have to learn is about your player,” Judge said. “Everyone is unique and everyone is different, and you can’t coach any one player — especially a specialist — the same, because no one has the same body. No one has the same exact mechanics. And no one has the same exact technique.”

Read More: Joe Judge, Stephen Gostkowski,
Bill Belichick explains in great detail how his coaching staff will be there for Stephen Gostkowski 10.24.16 at 11:33 am ET
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Stephen Gostkowski

Stephen Gostkowski

When Bill Belichick says he has faith in Stephen Gostkowski to “work through” his struggles, the Patriots coach is going to offer more than just moral support.

Belichick was asked about his kicker again on Monday in a conference call with reporters. Belichick was asked how much special teams coaching support there is with the Patriots. Starting with special teams coordinator Joe Judge, Belichick made it clear that Gostkowski is not in the battle alone.

“I can’t speak for other teams. I think Joe’s very knowledgable about the techniques of kicking,” Belichick said. “I know when I became a special teams coach and coached special teams for many years as an assistant coach, and I continue to be involve with it as a head coach, that’s one of the things I had to learn. I had to learn how to coach those individual specialists, the snappers, the kickers, the punters, the returners. I don’t think it’s any different than coaching any other position. Things you don’t know, you need to learn. The things you do know, you need to be able to teach to the players, however you acquire that information.”

Belichick then recalled how he’s had the chance to learn how to coach different positions from some of the greatest to play.

“Some of that certainly comes from the players, especially when you coach good players at the position that you’re coaching, you can learn a lot from them, just like I learned a lot from many of the players that I coached. Going back to people like Dave Jennings as a punts or Carl Banks or Lawrence Taylor or Pepper [Johnson], guys like that, as linebackers with the Giants. However you acquire that information, you acquire it and you have to be able to convey it and teach it to the players and recognize technique or judgment.
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Joe Judge, New England Patriots, Ray Ventrone
Jonathan Kraft on league-wide interest in staff: ‘It’s a compliment to organization’ 01.03.16 at 1:31 pm ET
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Patriots president Jonathan Kraft takes no offense at the continued interest in Bill Belichick‘s coaching staff. As a matter of fact he takes it as a high form of flattery and expects it to continue this week when more NFL coaching turnover takes place.

Kraft said he’s not surprised when teams come calling on the likes of Josh McDaniels and player personnel chief Nick Caserio. Since returning to New England for the 2011 playoff run, McDaniels has turned Cleveland while Caserio shunned Miami’s GM post.

Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and special teams coordinator Joe Judge could be among those piquing interest of other teams this January.

“That’ll really start after the games today,” Kraft told the team’s pregame radio show Sunday. “We have the highest regard for Josh, Matt and Joe and all our position coaches. We’re very fortunate. Bill does an amazing job in bringing in young coaches and how he want to coach the game. Bill is much more about growing talent. I think that’s part of having a system that works for you. We feel really great about all the guys on our staff. Big compliment when guys on our staff get asked to do that.

“It’s part of having a system that works for you and we feel great about all the guys on our staff. When people come to interview them, I think it’s a compliment to the organization. Not that we want to lose anybody, but that’s what it is.

“I’ll throw Nick in there. Nick has had some job interviews offered to him over the years, too. He’s somebody that’s been under our scouting and coaching staff since he came into the league. Coming out of college, he and Josh knew each other coming out of college. It’s all part of building that culture. So, big compliment when guys on our staff get asked to do that.”

Kraft also confirmed what Belichick said this week about it taking three to four years before a head coach can really implement his program.

“When you think about the way the salary cap works and when a coach comes into an organization, the personnel departments 12 to 15 [people] and on the upper end, 25-to-30,” Kraft said. “I think Bill’s right. It takes a long time. They know you need to give a new coach a long time. They see each year a team will come from nowhere and go deep in the playoffs.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Joe Judge, Jonathan Kraft, Josh McDaniels
Bill Belichick says scoring after swinging gate ‘was the best thing about it’ 10.19.15 at 4:55 pm ET
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Bill Belichick is getting ready for the Jets this week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick is getting ready for the Jets this week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Back in New England after their 34-27 win over the Colts Sunday night, Bill Belichick was still being asked Monday about the single-most talked about play in the NFL.

The Colts attempted a trick punt formation known as the “swinging gate” with 1:17 left in the third quarter, trailing just 27-21 and facing a 4th-and-3 at their own 37.

By now, everyone in the football world, and even many on the outside, knows what happened next. Gunner Griff Whalen snapped the ball to Colt Anderson, leading to a Patriots possession at the Colts 35. Six plays later, LeGarrette Blount caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady and the game was basically decided.

On Monday Belichick, in a conference call, explained in detail what he saw.

“The play was a version of the swinging gate play,” Belichick explained. “I don’t know exactly how it was supposed to work. That’s something you’d have to ask them about. They brought the gunner in to snap the ball so he would have been an eligible receiver. We had to cover him.

“I think basically you want to try, on punt formations like that, it’s just a numbers game. You want to have enough guys to match to the smaller numbers and as many guys as you can to match to the larger number where they’re overshifted. We certainly knew that the punter could throw. He’s done that before. He’s thrown passes to uncovered guys in punt formations. We saw him run against Tennessee. We’re aware of those things so it’s just kind of everybody making sure they take care of their responsibility on the shift and make sure we can defend the formation and know who’s eligible.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Bolden, Colt Anderson, Griff Whalen
Bill Belichick feels special transition from Scott O’Brien to Joe Judge: ‘I think he’s a great young coach’ 08.01.15 at 3:32 pm ET
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Joe Judge

Joe Judge

FOXBORO — It takes a lot for Bill Belichick to feel comfortable handing over his special teams unit after it’s been coached by one of the best assistants he’s ever had.

But in Joe Judge, Belichick feels as though he has someone who can begin to fill the shoes of Scotty O’Brien, who walked away from his special teams job after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale.

What has the transition been like so far in OTAs and minicamp?

“Smooth,” Belichick said. “Scott was a great coach, as good a coach as anybody I’€™ve ever been with and around, did a tremendous job. I learned a ton from Scott. I know Joe did, too, or has. But Joe is a great coach in his own right. Each of us have our own style.

“Joe has his own style, but very well prepared, very thorough, has great experience in the kicking game and all of the situations and techniques, both with the specialists and all the other positions on the field. Joe and I spend a lot of time together. I think he’€™s a great young coach.”

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Read More: 2015 Patriots Training Camp, Bill Belichick, Joe Judge, Matthew Slater
Matthew Slater: Scott O’Brien ‘earned his retirement,’ but ‘excited to play for’ Joe Judge, Ray Ventrone 04.22.15 at 11:31 am ET
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Scott O'Brien

Scott O’Brien

FOXBORO — There’s no question the Patriots’ special teams played a large role in the Super Bowl winning season last year.

Whether it was blocking a field goal and returning it for a touchdown, blocking a punt, or even just a huge flip in field position, the Patriots’ special teams unit seemingly made a big play every single week.

Just two days after winning the Super Bowl, their leader, coach Scott O’Brien announced his retirement after 24 seasons in the NFL, including the last six in New England. O’Brien will remain with the organization in some capacity.

In the same release, the team announced assistant special teams coach Joe Judge would take over for O’Brien and then later the team signed former player Ray Ventrone to serve as Judge’s assistant.

“I know that the game comes to an end for all of us and I know Scott had jokingly mentioned it over the years, and I certainly didn’€™t want him to retire because he definitely means a lot to me personally and I know to a lot of guys around here, but he’€™s earned his retirement,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said.

“He’€™s given a lot to this game, and I know he’€™s excited about the next chapter. That being said, we’€™re excited about having Ray [Ventrone] here and Joe Judge, them starting their legacy, we’€™re excited to play for those guys.”

Ventrone actually played for the Patriots and Bill Belichick from 2006-08. In all he played nine seasons in the NFL,  primarily used as a special teams player, registering 57 total tackles.

Slater was actually a teammate of Ventrone, and he always had a feeling one day he would become a coach.

“Certainly,” Slater said. “I think Ray was just a pro’€™s pro, the way he played the game and the way he prepared, he had a better understanding of the game than most guys I’€™ve ever played with. The way he competed, I had so much respect for him as a competitor and the passion that he played with and he’€™s already bringing that to the meeting room and we’€™re excited about it. Like I said, I’€™m not surprised that he’€™s doing what he’€™s doing now.”

Having a former teammate now be his coach, Slater said there was one thing he needed to be made clear before getting started.

“The big thing that I wanted to get clear with Ray was, ‘€˜Should I call you Ray or should I call you coach Ventrone?’€™” Slater joked. “So it’€™s going to be great. Coach Ventrone is a very intelligent guy and he played this game at a high level for a long time and he really understands the game, so I’€™m excited to work with him, to learn from him, and I think he’€™s going to bring a lot to the table.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Joe Judge, Matthew Slater, Ray Ventrone
Ray Ventrone returns to Patriots as special teams assistant coach 03.03.15 at 10:11 am ET
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Bill Belichick is happy to bring back Ray Ventrone as a special teams coach. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick is happy to bring back Ray Ventrone as a special teams coach. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bubba is back.

The Patriots announced Tuesday that Bill Belichick has hired Ray Ventrone to serve as assistant special teams coach. Belichick was the first coach to give Ventrone a chance to play in the NFL. Now it will be Belichick who gives Ventrone a chance to coach.

Ventrone will fill the spot of Joe Judge, who was promoted to take over as special teams coach for Scott O’Brien when O’Brien retired on Feb. 3, two days after the Patriots’ win in Super Bowl XLIX.

Ventrone spent four years with the Patriots after originally joining the team as a rookie free agent out of Villanova in 2005. Ventrone played nine NFL seasons as a player with New England (2006-2008), the New York Jets (2007), Cleveland Browns (2009-2012) and the San Francisco 49ers (2013-2014). During his NFL career, he was primarily used as a special teams player, registering 57 total tackles, including a season-high of 12 in 2009 with the Browns.

Ventrone was originally signed by New England as a rookie free agent out of Villanova in 2005. After spending the 2005 season on the Patriots’€™ practice squad and the 2006 season on injured reserve, he split the 2007 season between the Jets and the Patriots practice squads before being signed to the New England 53-man roster in November.

Ventrone played in two regular-season games and in Super Bowl XLII that year. Ventrone laid out Domenik Hixon while covering a kickoff.

Ventrone played the entire 2008 season with the Patriots before playing four years in Cleveland and the last two seasons in San Francisco.

His brother Ross, also a product of Villanova, also played for the Patriots and played in Super Bowl XLVI, a loss to the Giants in Indianapolis.

Read More: Andy Talley, Bubba Ventrone, Joe Judge, New England Patriots
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