FEBRUARY 12: With the Super Bowl now in the books, the agreement between Kubiak and the Saints has indeed been finalized, Pelissero’s colleague Ian Rapoport notes. Kubiak’s second coordinator gig will take place in New Orleans in 2024 as part of a staff which has undergone a number of changes.
FEBRUARY 11: Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network confirms that Klint Kubiak’s deal with the Saints is expected to be finalized after today’s Super Bowl (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). Kubiak reportedly plans to add former Bears quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko to his staff — Chicago dismissed Janocko at the end of the season — and longtime O-line coach John Benton is also likely to be hired, as previously reported.
FEBRUARY 2: Another Kyle Shanahan staffer is on track to move up the ladder. The Saints are working on a deal to hire Klint Kubiak as their next offensive coordinator, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter.
No agreement between Kubiak and the Saints can be announced until after Super Bowl LVIII, with the current 49ers pass-game coordinator preparing for the game. Following the Super Bowl, the deal can go through. But it appears the Saints have decided on a name to conclude their long-running OC search.
This will bring a second chance for Kubiak, who spent the 2021 season as the Vikings’ OC. Succeeding his father (Gary) as Minnesota’s play-caller, Kubiak needed to look elsewhere after Mike Zimmer‘s firing. He landed in Denver, and while that brought a Colorado return for the second-generation coach, the Nathaniel Hackett-guided season produced disastrous results. Kubiak, 36, has managed to land on his feet, working alongside QBs coach Brian Griese as Shanahan’s top assistants on offense.
The Saints’ OC search produced some twists and turns. Four interviewees bowed out early or accepted jobs with other teams. Shane Waldron (Bears), Dan Pitcher (Bengals) and Zac Robinson (Falcons) landed OC gigs; Jerrod Johnson agreed to stay with the Texans. This led to a search that will end up taking more than five weeks to complete, with the Kubiak agreement not becoming official until after the 49ers’ eighth Super Bowl.
Kubiak will follow Matt LaFleur, Mike McDaniel and Mike LaFleur as Shanahan-tree coaches to have moved into HC or OC positions. The Saints also interviewed Griese, but they will go with the more experienced coach. Kubiak also barely qualifies as a Shanahan tree branch, though the younger Shanahan’s offense is derived from the attack Mike Shanahan and Kubiak’s father used with the Broncos in the 1990s and 2000s. The Shanahan-Sean McVay-based attack continues to succeed, and the Saints are the latest team to buy in.
With Zimmer a defense-based HC, the Kubiaks served as the Vikings’ play-callers in back-to-back seasons. Returning to the sideline in 2020 to replace Kevin Stefanski, Gary Kubiak spent one season as Minnesota’s OC. Klint took over a year later. The Vikings ranked 14th in scoring in 2021, an 8-9 campaign, and 12th in total offense. That year brought Justin Jefferson‘s first All-Pro nod, a 10-touchdown Adam Thielen slate and Dalvin Cook keeping his 1,100-yard rushing streak intact.
Nothing especially positive can be said about the 2022 Broncos’ offense, but Hackett did give Kubiak a play-calling shot — over OC Justin Outten — as that season went south. This season has obviously brought a Kubiak bounce-back effort. Brock Purdy has continued his stunning ascent from his Mr. Irrelevant status, becoming a Pro Bowler and helping the 49ers make up for their Trey Lance misstep. Purdy’s 9.6 yards per attempt is the best mark by a full-season starter since the 1950s, with Kurt Warner‘s 2000 number (9.9) coming in 11 games. The 49ers’ passing attack also nearly became the sixth team in NFL history to see three pass catchers eclipse 1,000 yards, seeing Deebo Samuel‘s October shoulder injury impede that path. Brandon Aiyuk reached a career-high 1,342 yards this season, while George Kittle surpassed 1,000 as well.
This offseason brought new territory for the Saints, who had not changed offensive coordinators since promoting Pete Carmichael in 2009. Carmichael served as one of the longest-tenured coordinators in NFL history, but after two seasons calling the plays post-Sean Payton, Carmichael received his walking papers (Payton has since hired Carmichael in Denver). The Saints did rank ninth in scoring and 14th in total offense this season, but the unit submitted inconsistent work during a 7-10 campaign. Kubiak will be charged with elevating the Derek Carr-led attack in 2024.
Here is how the Saints’ OC search wrapped:
- Ronald Curry, quarterbacks coach (Saints): Interviewed
- Luke Getsy, former offensive coordinator (Bears): Conducted second interview 1/31
- Brian Griese, quarterbacks coach (49ers): Interviewed
- Brian Johnson, former offensive coordinator (Eagles): Interviewed 1/29
- Jerrod Johnson, quarterbacks coach (Texans): Conducted second interview 1/27; to stay with Texans
- Klint Kubiak, pass-game coordinator (49ers): To be hired
- Greg Lewis, receivers coach (Ravens): To interview
- Dan Pitcher, quarterbacks coach (Bengals): Second interview on 1/24; hired as Bengals OC
- Zac Robinson, quarterbacks coach (Rams): Interviewed; hired as Falcons OC
- Mike Sullivan, quarterbacks coach (Steelers): To interview
- Shane Waldron, offensive coordinator (Seahawks): Interviewed; hired as Bears OC