Gary Kubiak

Extra Points: Shazier, Vikings, Staff, Cards

From 2017-20, the Vikings will have featured four different play-callers. But the procession from Pat Shurmur to John DeFilippo to Kevin Stefanski to now Gary Kubiak found the former Super Bowl-winning HC a bit hesitant. Kubiak stepped way from the Broncos after the 2016 season, because of health issues, and has not called plays since. But after briefly debating the move from offensive advisor to OC, the 58-year-old assistant accepted the offer to replace Stefanski, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. Kubiak has removed himself from the head-coaching market but never ruled out returning to a play-calling role. He was nearly set to resume that responsibility with the Broncos last year, but staffing issues led him to Minnesota.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Kubiak’s latest offensive staff will see more changes this year. The Vikings are bringing in Phil Rauscher to be their new assistant offensive line coach, Goessling adds. Although Rauscher spent the past two years in Washington, he worked under Kubiak for each of his two seasons as Denver’s HC. Rauscher will replace Andrew Janocko, but the Vikings’ previous assistant O-line coach will remain on staff. Janocko will become Minnesota’s new wide receivers coach. This marks Janocko’s sixth season on Mike Zimmer‘s staff.
  • The Steelers have kept Ryan Shazier on their roster for each of the past two years. That may well be the plan for 2020 as well. Owner Art Rooney II confirmed (via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) the Steelers “would love” to have Shazier back. The injured linebacker has worked as a mentor of sorts to the team’s young players the past two years. The Steelers have kept Shazier, 27, on their roster despite his inability to play; a league-minimum salary of $820K would likely come his way if the team uses the same arrangement in 2020. Shazier, whom GM Kevin Colbert confirmed has shown “significant improvement” in his workouts since the 2019 offseason, is not expected to be ready to play in 2020.
  • The Cardinals will add a former NFL and AAF quarterback to their staff. Mike Bercovici will join Kliff Kingsbury‘s staff as an entry-level assistant, per the Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman. Bercovici, 27, spent time with the Cards’ practice squad in 2017. The ex-Arizona State quarterback was on Herm Edwards‘ Sun Devils staff last season.
  • A key CBA-related meeting will be pushed back. The NFLPA meeting where a potential vote on the owners’ CBA proposal will now occur Friday instead of Thursday, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. The Washington D.C. summit represents a step toward a potential CBA ratification, but a few substantial hurdles remain — such as the players accepting the owners’ 17-game schedule proposal.

Vikings Hire Gary Kubiak As OC

The Vikings are bumping Gary Kubiak up to the offensive coordinator position, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Last year, Kubiak served as an assistant head coach and offensive advisor. 

Kubiak will take over for Kevin Stefanski, who left to become the Browns’ head coach earlier this offseason. During Stefanski’s first full season at the helm, the Vikings ranked as a top-10 offense in points. With ample experience and knowhow, Kubiak will look to build on that.

Kubiak hooked on with the Vikes in January of last year, bringing him back to the sidelines as something other than a head coach since 2014, when he was the Ravens’ OC. Prior to that, he was in talks to return to Denver as their offensive coordinator, before those discussions went sideways.

As a head coach, Kubiak had a career 82-75 mark, including a 21-11 record across his two seasons with the Broncos. In his first year as the Broncos’ HC, Denver won Super Bowl 50 with a memorable win over the Panthers.

The Vikings fell short of their Super Bowl goal in 2019, but Kubiak will have plenty to work with on the offensive side of the ball. The team’s backfield trio of Dalvin CookAlexander Mattison, and Mike Boone finished in the top six in rushing yards and touchdowns last year. Meanwhile, quarterback Kirk Cousins enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career. Kubiak was a big part of that strategy and in 2020 he’ll have a chance to do everything his way while maintaining consistency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Texans, Kubiaks, Cowboys

The Texans got embarrassed Sunday as they blew a 24-point lead in the playoffs to the Chiefs, but don’t expect any major coaching changes. It doesn’t look like Bill O’Brien is going anywhere, and his top assistant coach seems to be safe for now as well. O’Brien said after the game that he anticipates defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel being back next year, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Seemingly every year there is speculation that the 72-year-old legendary coach will retire or get pushed out, but he’s been able to stick.

Here’s the latest from the coaching world:

  • With Kevin Stefanski leaving to become the next head coach of the Browns, the Vikings will need to find a new offensive coordinator. Both Gary and Klint Kubiak are on staff, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune both floated them as potential favorites for the gig (Twitter links). Goessling noted in a separate tweet that both Kubiaks have a strong relationship with Stefanski, and that “they’d talked about working together last year if Stefanski got the job in Cleveland.” Stefanski was a finalist for the gig that ended up going to Freddie Kitchens. The elder Kubiak is a seasoned vet with a lot of head-coaching and coordinating experience, while his son Klint served as Minnesota’s quarterbacks coach this past year. It sounds like the Vikings could opt for continuity for Kirk Cousins.
  • The Cowboys have a new secondary coach after letting go of Kris Richard. Dallas is hiring Maurice Linguist away from Texas A&M to fill that role, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Linguist had been the cornerbacks coach at A&M. He had previously coached under P.J. Fleck at the University of Minnesota. Mike McCarthy continues to flesh out his inaugural Cowboys staff.
  • The Dolphins will have two new coordinators in 2020, and they’ll also have a new quarterbacks coach. Miami is hiring Robby Brown to fill that role, a source told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Brown first served as an assistant coach in the college ranks for a handful of years, and then was an offensive quality control coach with the Jets for a few seasons. While in New York he worked under new Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, so this hiring makes some sense.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching & GM Search

The Browns have their new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, but they still need a new GM after firing John Dorsey. They recently requested an interview with Eagles exec Andrew Berry, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweets that he’s “at the front of the GM candidates.”

Robinson notes that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam once said he considered Berry a future GM, and that he has a relationship with chief strategist Paul DePodesta. In a separate tweet, Robinson explains that it may come down to whether or not Berry wants to take the job. He notes that Berry, who used to work in Cleveland under former GM Sashi Brown, is only 32 and in a good situation in Philly. He also writes that Berry will likely get other calls if he passes on the job.

As for the search that ultimately ended in Stefanski, Robinson has some interesting new nuggets. He tweets that Josh McDanielswanted a specific structure with the Browns” and that he “wasn’t going to an org where DePodesta or anyone else was a ‘side jury’ reporting to Haslam.” If that’s the case, then it sounds like McDaniels never got too close to landing in Cleveland despite his lengthy visit. The Browns and Haslam have caught plenty of flak for their odd reporting structures, and it sounds like that was an issue once again this time around. 

Robinson also tweets that both Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh “had very good interviews” and that he thinks they were the finalists along with Stefanski. Both should be hot names during next cycle. As for Stefanski’s staff, Robinson tweets that the rookie head coach will likely target either Gary or Klint Kubiak. The Kubiaks were on staff with Stefanski in Minnesota, although Robinson thinks the Vikings will try to retain both. Either could be a candidate to be Cleveland’s new OC assuming Stefanski hires one.

Finally, Robinson tweeted about the future prospects for assistant GM Eliot Wolf and VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith. He thinks the Haslams are open to both staying, and that Wolf will have a conversation with whoever the new GM is about a role.

Gary Kubiak Not Interested In HC Jobs

Vikings assistant head coach/offensive advisor Gary Kubiak has no interest in returning to the head coaching ranks, as Chad Graff of The Athletic tweets. “That’s not for me anymore,” Kubiak said.

That doesn’t come as a major surprise, given that Kubiak stepped down from his last head coaching job with the Broncos due to health concerns, and his health was also an issue during the latter stages of his tenure as the Texans’ HC. However, he is on the sidelines for the first time since the 2016 campaign — he served as a senior personnel advisor for the Broncos during the 2017-18 seasons — and it was fair to wonder if he was getting the head coaching itch again.

On the other hand, Kubiak could return to an offensive coordinator role at some point. He was mentioned as a viable OC candidate following the 2017 season, and he was expected to accept the OC job with the Broncos after they hired Vic Fangio as head coach this year. But Kubiak and the Broncos couldn’t see eye-to-eye on staffing and offensive philosophies, which led him to take his current post in Minnesota.

And while he is obviously not solely responsible for the Vikings’ offensive output his year, the club’s performance is not hurting his reputation as an offensive guru. Minnesota currently ranks ninth in the league in yards-per-game and eighth in points-per-game, and quarterback Kirk Cousins is having a career year. So if Kubiak still wants an OC job, he may just get it.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Munchak, Paradis, Modkins

Gary Kubiak went from Broncos front office exec to impending Denver OC to Vikings assistant head coach. We heard the Super Bowl-winning head coach wanted to bring back former Broncos assistants Rick Dennison and Brian Pariani to be part of the next Broncos offensive staff, and that led to the breakup between the coach and the team with which he is most associated. But John Elway‘s HC interview with Mike Munchak, while not being enough to deter the GM from offering the position to Vic Fangio, went well enough he wanted the Pittsburgh offensive line coach to come to Denver as an assistant. That was a deal-breaker for Kubiak, who sought Dennison to oversee his offensive line concepts, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Broncos fired Pariani in 2017, and the franchise was not ready to rehire him, Klis adds. Pariani will now coach tight ends in Minnesota. Rich Scangarello is now the Broncos’ OC.

Here is the latest from Denver:

  • On the subject of Scangarello, it looks like the former 49ers quarterbacks coach will be hiring someone to serve in that role in Denver. Previous QBs coach Mike Sullivan, as could be expected following the dismissal of 2017-18 Broncos OC Bill Musgrave, is not expected to be part of the 2019 staff, according to Klis (on Twitter). Sullivan had two NFL tours as an offensive coordinator, with the Buccaneers from 2012-13 and with the Giants from 2016-17.
  • However, the Broncos will retain one of their other offensive assistants. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins will be back, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. The 2016 San Francisco OC who then worked with Fangio in Chicago as the Bears’ 2017 running backs coach, Modkins succeeded longtime Denver RBs coach Eric Studesville and oversaw the stunning development of Phillip Lindsay. He will have a chance to continue working with the Pro Bowl back and third-round pick Royce Freeman in 2019.
  • Perhaps the Broncos’ best center since Tom Nalen, Matt Paradis is not a lock to return to Denver as a free agent. The Broncos would like him to come back, but Klis notes he will test the market. This could be a significant development, as the 29-year-old blocker will probably be the top center available come March. Denver brass and Paradis entered into extension discussions last year, but the sides could not reach an agreement. Paradis’ ironman streak ended in November as well, with a broken fibula ending his season. The Broncos stand to hold $40MM-plus in cap space and have some cap-casualty candidates, but Paradis going to the market may well mean it will cost a team eight figures annually to sign him.

Coaching Rumors: Rizzi, Dennison, Browns

Darren Rizzi interviewed for the Dolphins coaching job that is likely to go to Brian Flores, but the special teams coordinator is a coveted commodity around the league. The Packers are set to interview him, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Miami wants to retain Rizzi, who has been with the team throughout the 2010s, but has given him permission to seek employment elsewhere. That may soon prompt an extensive interview circuit. Five teams are interested in bringing him aboard, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. The Vikings look to be one of those. Rizzi, 48, has only coached for one NFL franchise. His pre-Dolphins gigs were college jobs in the northeast, including a one-season stay (2008) as Rhode Island’s head coach.

As week three of many teams’ offseason begins, here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • Todd Monken‘s rise to Buccaneers play-caller earned him interest in teams’ OC jobs. He ended up landing with the Browns, but the other recent play-caller on this staff will call Cleveland’s plays next season. Freddie Kitchens will be the game-day director for the Browns’ offense next season, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). This won’t be too new for Monken, who spent the first two seasons as Bucs OC watching Dirk Koetter call plays.
  • The Vikings announced Klint Kubiak (quarterbacks coach) and Brian Pariani (tight ends) are following Gary Kubiak to Minnesota, with the latter’s official title being assistant head coach/offensive advisor. Expected to be part of the Gary Kubiak gang getting back together up north, Rick Dennison was not included in this announcement. But Mike Klis of 9News notes the former Broncos and Bills OC is indeed believed to be part of the next Vikings staff (Twitter link). When Kubiak agreed to reprise his longtime role as Broncos OC, he wanted Dennison to oversee the team’s offensive line concepts, per Klis. The Broncos’ pursuit of Mike Munchak overruled this, and Dennison — the Jets’ O-line coach in 2018 — could be set to have a role in aiding the Vikings’ blockers next season.
  • Speaking of Munchak, the Broncos went beyond their usual offensive line coach budget to bring him over from Pittsburgh, Klis notes (on Twitter). Munchak, who has coached for just two franchises (the Oilers/Titans and Steelers), has family in the area.
  • The Steelers promoted Shaun Sarrett to replace Munchak as their O-line coach, the team announced. Sarrett had previously served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach. He has been with the Steelers for seven seasons, helping instruct their offensive linemen for most of that time.
  • After the Steelers let running backs coach James Saxon go, he will move to Arizona. The Cardinals are hiring Saxon to coach their running backs, Aditi Kinkabwala of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). He will replace Kirby Wilson and attempt to revive Arizona’s No. 32-ranked ground game. Saxon has 19 years’ experience coaching running backs in the NFL — the past five with the Steelers, where he oversaw Le’Veon Bell‘s rise and James Conner and Jaylen Samuels‘ quality replacement efforts — and should help rookie NFL coach Kliff Kingsbury.
  • Kris Kocurek will move from south Florida to the Bay Area, shifting from the Dolphins’ defensive line coach to the same role with the 49ers, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM tweets. Kocurek, 40, was the Lions’ D-line coach for nine seasons prior to moving to Miami.

Vikings To Hire Gary Kubiak

Gary Kubiak will not return to an offensive coordinator role in 2019. Instead, he will take a job with the Vikings as an offensive advisor, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

He was linked to a Minnesota role earlier Monday, and his son’s new position likely played a key role. Klint Kubiak is expected to become the Vikings’ quarterbacks coach, Schefter reports.

This will be Gary Kubiak’s first time on the sidelines in a non-HC role since he was the 2014 Ravens’ OC. He will undoubtedly help OC Kevin Stefanski, whose first NFL play-calling experience came when he was promoted late this season to his current role.

Stefanski is close with Klint Kubiak, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). They worked together when Klint was part of the Vikings’ staffs in 2013-14 as a quality control coach. Gary Kubiak once wanted to bring Stefanski to Denver, per Schefter (on Twitter), but they will pair up in Minneapolis instead.

This also represents a key turning point on the 2019 coaching carousel. Less than a week ago, Kubiak was expected to return to the Broncos’ coaching staff as their offensive coordinator, teaming with new HC Vic Fangio. But conflicts, centering around personnel, scuttled that move. And it will end up sending Kubiak out of Denver, where he held his “dream job” and became a Super Bowl-winning coach.

Interestingly, the two assistants Kubiak reportedly wanted to bring back to Denver, per 9News’ Mike Klis, will follow him to Minnesota. Former Broncos OC Rick Dennison and ex-Denver tight ends coach Brian Pariani will be part of the Vikings’ staff next season, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM tweets, adding that Kubiak’s title is expected to be something along the lines of “assistant head coach/offense.” With Kubiak influencing staff moves to this degree, it looks like he is going to have a key voice for how the Vikings proceed next season. And the Vikings’ 2019 offensive staff will look a lot like the 2016 Broncos’ did.

These moves may well be based around Kirk Cousins. Mike Shanahan drafted Cousins and championed him as a future starter, though Cousins’ time realizing his former coach’s vision came under Jay Gruden. But Shanahan and Kubiak feature nearly identical offensive systems, making Kubiak-to-Minnesota a natural fit.

At 31, Klint Kubiak is a few months older than Cousins. He worked with quarterbacks in Denver for the past three seasons, the first under his father and most recent two when Gary Kubiak was part of the Broncos’ front office. Dennison served as Kubiak’s Denver OC from 2015-16 but was relieved of that job in Buffalo after the 2017 season. He coached the Jets’ offensive line last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Vikings, Kubiak, Dolphins

Here are the latest coaching rumors from around the NFL:

  • The Vikings are in play for Gary Kubiak, according to Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The OC job is already occupied by Kevin Stefanski, but Kubiak could work with him on that side of the ball. Kubiak’s son, Klint, was on the Vikings’ staff in 2013-14 and worked with Stefanski during that time, so there’s some degree of familiarity there.
  • Jim Caldwell is expected to join the Dolphins‘ staff in some capacity, though it won’t necessarily be as offensive coordinator, Albert Breer of The MMQB hears. The Dolphins could go with a younger coordinator and have Caldwell serve in a mentor-type role, but Caldwell could also don the headset after Miami missed out on guys like Greg Roman and Kliff Kingsbury.
  • Christopher Johnson says the report the Jets tried to tell Matt Rhule or Mike McCarthy who to hire is completely untrue (Twitter link via Connor Hughes of The Athletic). If he is to be believed, then new head coach Adam Gase will have a good degree of freedom to fill out his staff. If you choose to believe the reports, then Gase will probably have to work off of a limited list of options provided by GM Mike Maccagnan and the rest of the front office.

 

Jaguars To Interview Gary Kubiak

Gary Kubiak will not be joining the Broncos, but he’s still after offensive coordinator positions. With that in mind, he’ll interview with the Jaguars on Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

Kubiak is still technically under contract as the Broncos’ senior personnel advisor, but GM John Elway appears wiling to let Kubiak out of his contract for a coaching job, Rapoport hears. This is a slight departure from Elway’s position a few weeks ago, when he was warding off interested suitors such as the the Bengals and Falcons. At the time, Kubiak was in line for Denver’s OC gig, but the two men had some disagreements when it came time for Kubiak to formally sign up as a lieutenant to new head coach Vic Fangio.

As a head coach, Kubiak has a career 82-75 mark, including a 21-11 record across his two seasons with the Broncos. In his first year as the Broncos’ HC, Denver won Super Bowl 50 with a memorable win over the Panthers.