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Assistant coaches who stayed help in transition of Broncos' offense

3/27/2015

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – When Gary Kubiak assembled his coaching staff earlier this year, the end result showed the holdovers from John Fox’s staff were largely on offense.

And that is a result of both good fortune and design.

On the defensive side the Broncos are installing Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. Sure, they’ll fit things to the team’s personnel, but essentially it's out with the old as the new playbook is simply going in on that side of the ball as a new defensive staff gets a feel for its players.

offense, however, the Broncos are dove-tailing what quarterback Peyton Manning has done over his Hall of Fame career, including three seasons and 131 touchdown passes, with what Kubiak has done on offense in two decades as an NFL play-caller. And while Kubiak didn’t begin looking at prospective assistants for his new staff with that transition on the front-burner, it already has turned out to be a benefit.

“It’s very good,’’ Kubiak said. “First off, I’m very excited they had opportunities, any time coaches move around, that’s part of it. They really wanted to be a part of what we’re doing, … They’ve done a tremendous job there in Denver, and for us it was great to come in and they helped us get a head start on the players. As we sat in meetings and we started talking about systems, they were basically the experts on what they had been doing in the past. We come in with a system that we feel good about, so together as coaches we’re sitting there every day and we hash it out.’’

Beyond the bulk of the team’s strength and conditioning staff Kubiak retained seven assistant coaches from Fox’s staff and six are on the offensive side of the ball. It’s a group that includes quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, offensive line coach Clancy Barone and running backs coach Eric Studesville.

Kubiak said the group has helped as the Broncos prepared a new playbook on offense that would include what Kubiak wants in the offense with what Manning has been proficient at doing for almost two decades in the league. They worked through terminology issues and all involved said it made it easier to sort through what things had been called in the Broncos' offense and what they will be called now as well as what would remain in the playbook and what would be added.

That it made for quick launching points as the new things were added.

“The first thing you try to find out is what crosses over real fast. This will be easy,’’ Kubiak said. “You call it this, we call it that. OK, that’s easy. Now let’s find out what’s hard and let’s come to some common ground here. It’s been very good and we’re getting ready for the draft, too, so we have a lot going on.’’

Barone was the Broncos tight ends coach this past season, but Kubiak hired Brian Pariani, who worked with Kubiak on both Mike Shanahan’s staff in Denver as well as Kubiak’s staff in Houston, for that job. Barone was the Broncos offensive line coach in 2010 – Josh McDaniels’ last season as coach and was the assistant offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons in 2004.

“I’ve known Clancy for a long, long time,’’ Kubiak said. “I’ve known Eric for a little while. This is my first introduction to Tyke.’’

Since he was hired in January just how Kubiak and the Broncos will construct an offense they’ve used for some time with a quarterback who hasn’t really run an offense like it in Manning, has been one of the biggest topics of conversation among the team’s faithful. At every opportunity since he was hired Kubiak has said he would be “crazy’’ not to put Manning in an offense the quarterback was comfortable in and one that would give the Broncos the best chance for success. Kubiak added this past week at the NFL owners’ meetings that he felt like he might need to adapt as much, or more, than the Broncos players.

“I’m the one who has to adjust and find out how I’m going to mesh everything together,’’ Kubiak said. “That’s what we’ve been doing and I told Peyton that from the start. We are going to run his offense and do what he does best, but it’s going to be the Broncos’ (offense). We’re going to mesh things together. Obviously I love to run the ball and I love the play-(action) pass. I love to do those things so there is going to be a commitment there but there is 17 years of investment in what he’s done better than anybody and we’re not going to run away from that.’’