Football coaches don’t often voluntarily move down the professional ladder. If someone goes from head coach to coordinator, it’s almost always because they didn’t work out as a head coach.
That’s why Gary Kubiak’s career path has been rather strange. He was a longtime offensive coordinator before he got a chance to be a head coach, first with the Houston Texans and then with the Denver Broncos. He was head coach of the Broncos when they won Super Bowl 50. He masterfully handled a strange quarterback situation with a fading and injured Peyton Manning that season.
Four years after winning that Super Bowl, Kubiak was promoted to be offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. It’s not the typical path for a coach.
Gary Kubiak won a Super Bowl, stepped away a year later
Kubiak stepped away from the Broncos job after the 2016 season, one year removed from winning a Super Bowl. He had health concerns and said he was retiring. But he stayed with the Broncos in a non-coaching role, then joined the Vikings as assistant offensive coach. He didn’t call plays, but had a clear influence on the Vikings’ offense that was run by coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
“I missed it. I really did. There’s just something about it at the end of the week: ‘Did we get a ‘W’ or not?’ Just that feeling,” Kubiak told the Associated Press last year. “I love being around players. I love to teach. This gives me an opportunity to get back and do that.”
When Stefanski took the head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns, it was anticipated that Kubiak would slide into the offensive coordinator role. On Thursday, that became official.
A head coach has to deal with a lot of things that have little to do with football. That job can be a lot more stressful than game-planning and calling plays on Sundays. Kubiak had great success as a head coach, and presumably he’s content just running the Vikings’ offense these days.
Kubiak’s influence was seen on 2019 Vikings offense
Kubiak, who was Mike Shanahan’s offensive coordinator for years with the Broncos, is a master of the zone-blocking scheme in the run game and that influence was clear on the 2019 Vikings. Running back Dalvin Cook had a big season in that offense.
The offense shouldn’t look a lot different with Kubiak calling the plays. That’s good news for Kirk Cousins and the rest of the Vikings offensive players.
Kubiak, who is 58 years old, has always been adept at calling a game, whether as a coordinator or head coach. He’ll get to do that without the extra stress that comes with being a head coach. Sounds like a pretty good gig.
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