Klint Kubiak

Denver Emerging As Premier QB Destination

We wrote a bit earlier today on the Broncos being among multiple AFC teams who “have trade compensation lined up with the Packers,” in relation to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Well, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Denver has emerged as a prime location for many of the league’s veteran quarterbacks looking for a potential change of scenery.

The Broncos recently hired former Packers’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to replace Vic Fangio, who failed to accomplish a winning season in three years with the Broncos. The former Green Bay staffer represents an obvious and strong connection for Rodgers. Should Rodgers decide to move on from the Packers, having a play-caller that he’s familiar with could add some allure to the Mile High City. Another intriguing aspect that could bring a star quarterback to Denver is the addition of former Vikings’ offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Kubiak just helped Kirk Cousins turn in one of his best seasons in Minnesota.

Hackett and company inherit an impressive roster posed to perform. The defense is comprised of veterans like outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, safety Justin Simmons, defensive end Shelby Harris, and cornerback Ronald Darby. There are a number of free agents that Denver would like to bring back like cornerbacks Bryce Callahan & Kyle Fuller, defensive back Kareem Jackson, inside linebacker Josey Jewell, and outside linebacker Malik Reed. Even if they fail to bring some of those names back, the Broncos saw impressive seasons last year for youngsters like cornerback Patrick Surtain II, linebacker Baron Browning, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, and safety Caden Sterns. The list of defensive players above may not overwhelm you with stardom, but, together, the Broncos defense ranked third in the league in points allowed and eighth in the league in yards allowed.

In addition to a brand new offense and stacked defense, Denver boasts a nice array of young offensive weapons. An impressive receiving corps is led by veteran 26-year-old Courtland Sutton, young star Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, who has broken out a bit over the past two seasons. The Broncos also have two talented, young receiving tight ends in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Any quarterback looking to join in on the fun would potentially have the benefit of a two-headed rushing attack that was 79 yards short of a combined 2,000-yard rushing season. Running back Javonte Williams enjoyed a healthy dose of carries in his rookie season, and there is mutual interest in bringing back Melvin Gordon.

Rodgers is obviously a name to keep an eye on as the decision on his future in Green Bay looms on the horizon. He has said that he will let the Packers know of his intentions before the franchise tag deadline so they can figure out how to deal with free agent wide receiver Davante Adams. In addition to Rodgers, though, keep an eye out for Denver to make moves on other quarterbacks searching for greener pastures. Russell Wilson has long been rumored to be interested in moving on from Seattle, and Deshaun Watson is still searching for a new home.

Whether Rodgers, Wilson, Watson, or some other under-the-radar name, look for the Broncos to make a move for a star quarterback. If they are able to find the right fit, the move could bring them into contention for what could easily turn into the toughest division in football.

AFC Coaching Notes: Broncos, Jets, Raiders, Titans

Nathaniel Hackett filled two major roles on his coaching staff today, adding Justin Outten as his offensive coordinator and Ejiro Evero as his defensive coordinator. Naturally, the team isn’t finished adding to the staff. The Broncos announced that they’ve hired Butch Barry as their offensive line coach and Klint Kubiak as their passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach.

Barry served as the 49ers’ assistant offensive line coach this past season. He previously worked with Hackett in Green Bay, with Barry serving as a senior analyst in 2020. The coach has also had stints with the Buccaneers and University of Miami.

Kubiak was the Vikings offensive coordinator in 2020. The song of Gary Kubiak, Klint Kubiak previously worked with the Broncos when he served as offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach between 2016 and 2018.

More coaching notes out of the AFC…

  • A pair of Jets coaches are stepping away from their roles. Senior offensive assistant Matt Cavanaugh won’t be returning to the team in 2022, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). Cavanaugh joined the team in August to replace the late Greg Knapp, and he primarily played a role in the QB room. Cimini tweets that offensive assistant John Beck also won’t be back in 2022. Beck served as Zach Wilson‘s “personal coach” last season.
  • After serving as an offensive assistant with the Patriots, Bo Hardegree is joining Josh McDaniels‘ staff in Las Vegas. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), Hardegree has been hired as the Raiders new quarterback coach. Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (via Twitter) that the Raiders will be retaining receivers coach Edgar Bennett. The former Packers OC was considered for jobs elsewhere.
  • The Titans have hired former Texans defensive line coach Bobby King to be their inside linebackers coach, reports Aaron Wilson. King previously worked with current Titans head coach Mike Vrabel when the two were in Houston, and King will also have another opportunity to coach long-time Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham.

Broncos Hire Justin Outten As OC

The Broncos are set to hire Packers tight ends coach Justin Outten as their new offensive coordinator (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). He’s now set to guide the offense for the new regime and take over where Pat Shurmur left off. 

[RELATED: Broncos Hire Nathaniel Hackett As Head Coach]

The Broncos were also said to be considering Klint Kubiak for the OC job, but he’s likely to wind up as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Kubiak just helped Kirk Cousins turn in one of his best seasons in Minnesota, so he figures to be a huge asset to new head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

Outten has been with the Packers since 2019. The Packers were the first team to employ him as a position coach, so this move to OC in Denver marks a huge step up. Before that, he was an intern under Kyle Shanahan with the Falcons and a high school assistant coach.

Interestingly, the Broncos’ first OC target was Packers offensive line coach Adam Stenavich, but the Packers installed him as their own OC. After that, they eyed Green Bay wide receivers coach Jason Vrable, but Packers head coach Matt LaFleur blocked the request. Chargers tight ends coach Kevin Koger was also in the running for Denver, but it sounds like Outten has edged him out.

Even with Outten on board, Hackett is expected to call the plays for his West Coast offense.

Broncos To Interview Packers’ Justin Outten For OC; Klint Kubiak On Radar

Nathaniel Hackett‘s offensive coordinator search has hit multiple snags, with the Packers nixing meetings with multiple candidates. The new Broncos HC is still aiming to bring over a Green Bay assistant to be his right-hand man on offense in Denver.

Packers tight ends coach Justin Outten is expected to interview for the Broncos’ OC job, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Outten has been with the Packers since 2019. Although Outten was never a position coach prior to the Green Bay gig, he spent time under Kyle Shanahan with the Falcons as an intern in 2016. A high school assistant coach for eight years prior to trekking to Atlanta, Outten spent three seasons with the Falcons and emerged on the Broncos’ radar over the weekend.

The Broncos are also planning to interview Klint Kubiak, Klis adds, though they might not be targeting him for their OC job. The second-generation coach is being considered for another top staff position. This could mean a gig as quarterbacks coach, Kubiak’s role in Minnesota prior to rising to offensive coordinator in 2021. Klint Kubiak was with the Broncos as an offensive assistant from 2016-18, the first of those seasons coming during father Gary Kubiak‘s HC stint. The Panthers interviewed Klint Kubiak, 34, for their OC role last month.

The Packers promoted Hackett’s initial Broncos OC target, O-line coach Adam Stenavich, to replace him as OC. Matt LaFleur also nixed Hackett’s plans to interview Green Bay wide receivers coach Jason Vrable. This led the Broncos to Outten, who joins Chargers tight ends coach Kevin Koger as OC candidates. It is interesting this job could come down to two tight ends coaches with a combined four years of position-coaching experience. But Hackett is planning to bring the West Coast Offense back to Denver; Outten and Kubiak have recent experience in this system. Hackett is expected to call plays for the Broncos.

While the Broncos requested a defensive coordinator interview with Ravens D-line coach Anthony Weaver, Rams secondary coach Ejiro Evero — a longtime friend of Hackett’s — can probably be considered the favorite for that job.

Panthers Plan To Talk With Vikings’ Klint Kubiak About OC Opening

Matt Rhule appears to be staying put, and the Panthers head coach is now searching for an offensive coordinator to complete his revamped staff. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter), the Panthers are planning to talk with Vikings offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak about the OC vacancy.

[RELEASED: Panthers Eyeing Jay Gruden, Bill O’Brien For OC]

The oldest son of former NFL coach Gary Kubiak, Klint got his start in coaching with Texas A&M in 2010. He got his first NFL job with the Vikings in 2013, and following short stints with Kansas and the Broncos, he returned to Minnesota as their quarterbacks coach in 2019. Kirk Cousins made a Pro Bowl during Kubiak’s first season in the role, and the coach was eventually promoted to offensive coordinator in 2021 following the retirement of his father.

While Kubiak’s disciplined offense had the fewest giveaways in the NFL, the offense showed inconsistency throughout the 2021 campaign. The Vikings were middle-of-the-road in yardage and points scored.

“It’s something that we could have done a lot better job of this year,” Kubiak said recently (via Andrew Krammer of the Minnesota Star Tribune). “Being more consistent, sustaining drives, being a better third-down team. That’s the most important that sticks out — being better on third downs.”

In Minnesota, there’s no guarantee that Kubiak sticks around following the ousting of head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman.

The Panthers fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady in early December, with offensive assistant Jeff Nixon taking over in the role. We recently learned that Bill O’Brien and Jay Gruden were among the names that Carolina was eyeing, and there were also whispers that the Panthers would reach out to Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.

Vikings Promote Klint Kubiak To OC

The Vikings are set to promote Klint Kubiak to the role of offensive coordinator (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). He’ll take over for his father, Gary Kubiak, who retired in early January.

Kubiak, 33, joined Minnesota along with his dad in 2019. There was talk of him possibly leaving town last year when the Browns hired ex-Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, but he stayed put. Now, he has his very first OC job as the Vikings look to bounce back from their 7-9 season.

With Kubiak ascending to OC, the Vikings will install Andrew Janocko as their QBs coach (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Meanwhile, Rapoport notes that Giants wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert also impressed during the interview process. Tolbert didn’t get the job this time, but he’ll likely be in the mix for other OC opportunities in the next cycle.

Even though the Vikings’ 2020 season was a letdown, the offense was still strong, ranking top 5 in yards and first downs. Kubiak will have plenty of talent to work with, including running back Dalvin Cookwho is fresh off of a 1,500+-yard/16 touchdown campaign, and promising young receiver Justin Jefferson. 

Browns Hire Kevin Stefanski As Head Coach

Jan. 13: The Browns have formally announced the hire. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Cleveland has given Stefanski a five-year contract (Twitter link).

Jan. 12: The Browns will hire Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their new head coach, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports (via Twitter) that it’s a done deal. Stefanski was the runner-up for the Cleveland HC gig last year, and after Freddie Kitchen‘s disastrous 2019 campaign resulted in his dismissal, the Browns have circled back to the man many believe they should have hired in the first place.

Stefanski has served in a variety of roles for the Vikings since joining the organization back in 2006, including stints as the tight ends coach, running backs coach, and quarterbacks coach. The 37-year-old was named interim offensive coordinator following the firing of John DeFilippo during the 2018 season, and he earned the full-time gig prior to the 2019 campaign.

During Stefanski’s first full season at the helm, the Vikings ranked as a top-10 offense in points. The coach led the trio of Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Mike Boone to top-six rankings in rushing yards and touchdowns, and he also helped quarterback Kirk Cousins have one of the best seasons of his career. Although the Vikings laid an egg in Saturday’s divisional round loss to the 49ers, Cleveland was obviously undeterred.

The Browns’ coaching search saw them interview eight candidates, as our 2020 head coaching search tracker shows (former Baylor HC Matt Rhule, who ultimately accepted the Panthers’ head coaching job, turned down the opportunity to interview with Cleveland). Browns chief strategist Paul DePodesta piloted the search, and recent reports indicated that he had narrowed his list to Stefanski and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, though Cabot tweets that Stefanski and 49ers DC Robert Saleh were the two finalists.

Interestingly, DePodesta’s contract with Cleveland is reportedly set to expire, but given his role in the coaching search, it seems likely that the Browns will retain him. However, the team continues to search for a new GM, and Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry may have just become the leading candidate for that role, as his analytically-driven approach meshes with Stefanski’s.

Meanwhile, Vikings QB coach Klint Kubiak could follow Stefanski to Cleveland to become the Browns’ new OC, as Mike Klis of 9News.com tweets.

With the Stefanski hire, the 2020 head coaching cycle has come to a stop. The Browns were the last of the five teams with a head coaching vacancy this year to hire their HC.

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.

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.