NFL Nation: Gary Kubiak

PHOENIX – Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has been out of sight, at least in terms of public appearances. But the team’s coaching change, with John Fox out and Gary Kubiak in, has not been out of Manning's mind.

Manning is aware of the public conversation following Kubiak’s hire has been about whether Manning could fit into his new coach's offense. On Friday, Manning said the subject isn't worth debate.

“I know that’s been a hot topic of discussion," Manning said following a breakfast where he received the Bart Starr Award for his off-the-field efforts. “ ... But if I choose to come back, I feel pretty comfortable, aside maybe from Tubby Raymond’s Delaware Wing-T offense, I feel pretty comfortable playing in any offense. I really do. I don’t see that as really being a factor."

Manning’s affirmation of his ability to work within Kubiak’s playbook confirms what former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said shortly after Kubiak’s hiring that the two would be able to work together.

“There's no doubt in my mind," Plummer said earlier this month. "Man, look, Gary is a great coach and great coaches change their systems up -- they extend it or tweak it to maximize their players' abilities. But they would both have to work at it, they both would have to find what was best for them on each side. They could do it, but they would have to put in the time to make it right. It’s not an exact fit, but Kubes is a great, great coach and Peyton is one of the best ever. If they want to get it done, need to get it done, they'll get it done."

Manning has not yet decided if he will return for the 2015 season, but said Friday he doesn’t want the process “to linger." He said Kubiak’s offense and any fallout from the Broncos’ 24-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC’s divisional round would not be factors. Kubiak has run a version of the West Coast offense almost exclusively in his career as an NFL play-caller. It requires the quarterback to be on the move plenty, to throw on the run, rolling left or right to both sides of the formation at various times.

Manning has played almost exclusively in the pocket in his Hall of Fame career with a far different playbook with far different verbiage in the play calls. Kubiak, on the day he was introduced as Broncos coach, said it would be “easy to work with Peyton," and that should Manning return: "We would make an offense that fits what our players do. This will be a Denver Broncos offense, not Gary Kubiak's offense. ... We would work to Peyton's strengths when the time comes and he makes his decision either way."

Manning also reaffirmed Friday his decision to return will be based largely on his physical health as well as the team's plans for himself and the roster.

“I’m kind of still determining that," Manning said. “That’s a little bit of the time. I’m taking some time to assess some things and to see. That’s something that’s important to me is not whether I can physically do it for myself, but can I physically do it to help the team? I’ve always wanted to be part of the solution to helping and never a problem or a limiting factor for the team. I want to be able to look Coach Kubiak and John Elway and Joe Ellis in the eye and say, ‘Yeah, physically, I honestly feel I can contribute and help.'

“It’s one thing to play and have a uniform and be on the roster. It’s another to truly contribute and help. And that’s the only thing I’ve known in football."
PHOENIX -- Occasionally, in walking around the events that surround the Super Bowl, you’ll spot a forlorn-looking soul in a Broncos jersey. A No. 18 here, a No. 58 there, a No. 10, maybe a No. 88 or two.

The Broncos opened their offseason workouts last April with the idea they would be one of the two teams in Super Bowl XLIX, that they would be the AFC team working out of a snazzy resort hotel. They said it, stood up for it and lived with that thought for most of the season that unfolded.

“That was the goal all year long," said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. after his first Pro Bowl appearance earlier this week. “We didn’t step back from that. That was our goal; we believed we had that kind of team. We still believe we have that kind of team. We’ll take some time and come back to work. But when you’re here and see all the Super Bowl stuff, it’s right there in front of you, most anywhere you look you see something that has the Super Bowl on it with those Roman numerals, right there. Of course, you want that to be you, you want to be playing for the championship."

[+] EnlargeEmmanuel Sanders
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesEmmanuel Sanders is among the Broncos players participating in Super Bowl festivities this week.
These Broncos have felt the sting in each of the last three seasons. They have exited the divisional round as the AFC’s No. 1 seed (2012). They have exited the divisional round as the AFC’s No. 2 seed (earlier this month). And they have lost a Super Bowl, by 35 points last February as the AFC’s top seed. It was the team's first title game appearance since it closed out the 1998 season as the champion.

As the eight Broncos players went through the Pro Bowl practices last week, they were surrounded by communities doing a Super Bowl countdown, with Super Bowl banners hanging over calendars of Super Bowl events. They continue to be a part of things, as Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was on the autograph schedule at the NFL Experience Tuesday and Wednesday, and linebacker Von Miller was on the docket Wednesday.

That, too, is a Super Bowl phenomenon. For players good enough to draw a crowd in the Super Bowl mayhem, it is an odd existence. You’re at the Super Bowl, just not in the Super Bowl.

“You know you had a good season; you were in the playoffs and it’s hard to get in the playoffs," said Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who played in this past Sunday’s Pro Bowl. “But the goal was to get to where we wanted to go all season and that’s the Super Bowl … It’s why it’s a little different to play [the Pro Bowl] where the Super Bowl is. You see Super Bowl stuff everywhere, kind of reminds you a little every time."

The Broncos have continued to go about their business in the last week as Gary Kubiak fills out his coaching staff. But there may be no bigger crossing of paths between the Broncos and the Super Bowl than Friday when quarterback Peyton Manning is scheduled to be in Phoenix to accept the Bart Starr Award for his community work.

It will be Manning’s most public appearance since the Broncos’ Jan. 11 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Manning said following that game he was uncertain if he would return for the 2015 season.

Executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway met with Manning the day after the loss and told Manning to take several weeks to make his decision.

“It’s hard for the season to be over," said Miller, one of the other Pro Bowl Broncos. “All you can do is get ready to get back to work when it’s time. We wanted to be here for the other game, be in the last game. You’re going to remember that no matter how many banners we see here."
PHOENIX -- In a Super Bowl with two coaches in Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll who know the benefits of a second chance, the latter stood up for former Denver Broncos coach John Fox.

Carroll dropped Fox's name while answering a question about finding a way to secure another chance in the NFL after being fired as a head coach. Carroll was fired by the New England Patriots after three seasons and by the New York Jets after one before finding success with the Seattle Seahawks. Fox is now the head coach of the Chicago Bears.

[+] EnlargePete Carroll
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaPete Carroll, a beneficiary of second chances, empathizes with former Broncos coach John Fox.
"So often guys get kicked out," Carroll said Wednesday morning. "I got kicked out after one year at the Jets. I didn't even get started figuring that thing out, I was a mess. But those experiences are extraordinarily valuable and I can see why owners look to a guy who has had experiences.

"To hire a guy like John Fox, how could you not want to hire John Fox? He's done everything. He's been through it all and he's a great coach and a communicator. I understand why guys get a second chance in that regard. It's based on the accumulated experiences that give you more wisdom, more understanding, and also an opportunity to see a guy. You've seen them in situations and you know more so what you're getting. I think that happens, too."

The Broncos and Fox parted ways Jan. 12, the day after Denver's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Fox led the Broncos to four consecutive AFC West titles and three consecutive 12-win seasons, including 2014. In announcing the move, Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway said the two disagreed on how to take the Broncos "to the next level."

In replacing Fox, Elway gave his long-time friend and former teammate Gary Kubiak a second chance as a head coach as well. Kubiak was fired by the Houston Texans 13 games into the 2013 season and spent this past season as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator.

"I learned a lot," said Kubiak, who was 61-64 in regular-season games with the Texans. "I think you always learn from what happens. You learn what you should do and maybe what you shouldn't do,"

Carroll echoed that sentiment Wednesday.

"It's just experiences," Carroll said. "This is a really difficult job the first time. There are so many things that happen in this position that you just can't predict and you just don't know and you don't see it coming in your preparation. You just have to deal with it as it hits you. Everybody is going to falter and make mistakes and say, 'I wish I would have known then what I know now.' That's going to happen. What unfortunately doesn't always happen is guys get enough time to work through those early years so that you can find your way and you can find your voice and you can find your perspective."

Former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who was fired 12 games into his second season in Denver and is now the Patriots' offensive coordinator, is hoping for a second chance as a head coach. Like Carroll, McDaniels said this week that the first time through can be a bumpy ride.

"I think I'm a better listener than I was then. I was young, made a lot of mistakes, learned from them -- hopefully -- try to be a better person, a better coach," McDaniels said. "I learned every day from it ... sometimes when you step away from it, you can look at it with a better eye, see what you did and why and make sure that it was the best way."
With an opening still available to run the team’s defense, new Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak is still attempting to hire Cincinnati Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph for the job.

To this point, according to multiple team sources, the Bengals have blocked Joseph’s attempt to take the job because he is under contract with the team. The Broncos interviewed Joseph earlier this month for the team’s head-coaching job, two days before team officials met with Kubiak in Houston.

However, the Broncos have continued their efforts with the Bengals to hire Joseph in recent days, and now there is a feeling within the Broncos’ front office that if the Bengals believe they can find a replacement on their defensive staff for Joseph, they would be more inclined to let Joseph take the promotion with the Broncos.

One name that has surfaced in the league for the Bengals is former New York Giants defense coordinator Perry Fewell. Fewell, who was fired by the Giants shortly after the season, interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers this past week to be the defensive backs coach.

The Broncos believe that until Fewell is hired somewhere he will be considered by the Bengals as well, and that if hired by Cincinnati it would free Joseph to run the Broncos’ defense. By league rules the only time an assistant coach under contract cannot be prevented from taking a new job is if the move is from coordinator to head coach.

The Broncos have tried to prepare themselves if they can’t secure Joseph, a former assistant coach on Kubiak’s staff with the Houston Texans from 2011-13, and the team reached out to former Broncos head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips last week.

Phillips took over as Texans interim head coach 13 games into the 2013 season after Kubiak was fired. The Texans were 30th in total defense, 29th in scoring defense and last in the league in pass defense in 2010 when Kubiak looked to Phillips to repair the unit.

The team drafted defensive end J.J. Watt in the first round of the 2011 draft and Phillips pushed the improved unit to No. 2 in total defense and No. 4 in scoring defense in 2011. The Texans were No. 7 in total defense in 2012 and were also No. 7 in total defense in 2013 even as the team finished 2-14.

Phillips was the Broncos' head coach in 1993 and 1994 and was fired after a 7-9 finish in 1994, when Broncos owner Pat Bowlen hired Mike Shanahan. Phillips was 16-16 in his two seasons, with a loss in the wild-card round following the 1993 season.

Phillips had been the Broncos’ defensive coordinator from 1989-1992.

Kubiak has hired Bill Kollar, another former Texans assistant, to be Denver's defensive line coach, and Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith is expected to be retained in the same job.

With Kubiak having already filled out the team’s offensive staff -- with Rick Dennison as offensive coordinator, as well as Joe DeCamillis as special-teams coordinator -- that leaves the defensive coordinator spot and defensive backs coach as the only two major openings that remain.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In all the words that have been written or spoken about friendship, the simplicity of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend," might be the bottom line.

And in the NFL, people hire their friends all of the time, familiarity being a powerful lure for folks trying to make high-risk decisions into low-risk ones. But those who hire a friend must also be prepared to fire a friend.

Which brings us to John Elway and Gary Kubiak. Elway is the Denver Broncos' executive vice president of football operations/general manager who hired Kubiak as the 15th head coach in the franchise’s history. The two really didn't need an interview to get the lowdown on each other.

[+] EnlargeJohn Elway and Gary Kubiak
The Denver Post/AP ImagesJohn Elway and Gary Kubiak have known each other for over 30 years.
They have been friends for more than three decades, since both were rookie quarterbacks for the Broncos in 1983. They’re former roommates and Kubiak was Elway’s offensive coordinator for four seasons. Elway, many who know him believe, has wanted Kubiak to be the coach since Pat Bowlen and Joe Ellis hired Elway in 2011 to resurrect the Broncos.

If it goes well, it is the kind of homecoming, put-the-band-back-together story Bowlen always endorsed when he ran the day-to-day operations of the team. If it doesn’t work out, well …

“We don't talk about risk," Kubiak said this week. “We understand the business. We understand it's a battle every day and it's stressful. But we have great respect for each other. We know it's going to be tough. But it's going to be fun being tough with somebody with that you know he had so much confidence in, so much trust in, as a football mind. And what John's done here in a brief period of time with this organization has been tremendous for me."

Since the Broncos and John Fox "parted ways" the day after the Broncos’ playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Elway has said he and Fox disagreed on how the team would take the next step, from playoff contender to title winner. And while Fox did not address that thought in his news conference in Chicago on Monday, there are those who believe he wanted a little more say on personnel matters, or at least be kept in the loop. Fox also balked at potential coaching staff changes.

Of all the things Elway said following Fox’s departure, the phrase "like-minded," might have been one of the most important. In short, there may be no more like-minded person for Elway when it comes to football than Kubiak.

“Gary’s done it, he’s seen it. He understands, he’s been there; he’s won a world championship with Mike [Shanahan]," said Elway, when asked why Kubiak is the right coach to take the Broncos to the next level. "And so he’s seen it. He’s been with the Baltimore Ravens, who have won several world championships. He’s seen how they do it. ... We talked about comments that this is a place that it’s win a championship or nothing. That’s how it’s always been. Nothing’s changing there. That’s what Pat Bowlen wants. And that’s why it’s great that Gary’s experience here being a Denver Bronco, he understands that."

And there you have it. Kubiak understands that Elway’s goal and the Bowlen family’s goal is to win a Super Bowl. Sure, that’s everybody’s stated goal in the NFL, but to state the goal is one thing, to part ways with a coach who won four consecutive division titles to go with 46 regular-season games in four years is another.

Still, like a lot of things you ask Kubiak about, he is unfazed by that thought. And when you’ve spent as much time with Elway as Kubiak has, he knows it’s just a given with his boss.

“John's the most competitive human being I've ever been around, whether you're playing cards or ping pong, it doesn't matter," Kubiak said. “And that's not going to change. I think I'm very competitive, too. That's probably why we're still standing in this league because if you're not, you're not going to hang out for very long. I think this will be 31 or 32 years for me in the National Football League and I'm sure it's the same, well, it would be the same for John. So, just to get together and battle together every day is something that is very special and something I look forward to."

The jury is out, until games get played and seasons go by, as to whether it works the way Elway and Kubiak want it to -- long-time friends help win Super Bowl trophy for Bowlen -- but Kubiak, more than anyone else the Broncos could have hired, knows exactly what he has signed up for.

As he said: “I want to be part of expectations."
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the middle of a career-changing losing streak, as he sought to pull the 2013 Houston Texans out of the rut they had fallen into and find the unturned stone that would make the difference, Gary Kubiak said he tried to do too much.

That he saw his limit but went right on by.

"That was a scary time," Kubiak said this week. "... I probably ran myself into the ground a little bit. I think I learned a lot from that."

[+] EnlargeGary Kubiak
Chuck Coo/USA TODAY SportsNew Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said he learned to delegate better in his season with the Ravens after suffering a health scare with the Texans.
The circled date will always be Nov. 3, 2013, against the Indianapolis Colts, when Kubiak, in his eighth season as the Texans' coach, collapsed on the field just before halftime of what would become the team's sixth consecutive loss in a streak that reached 14 by season's end.

Doctors called it a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. It happens if blood flow to the brain is briefly interrupted, often by a blood clot or narrowed blood vessels. It is often referred to as a "ministroke," because symptoms last only a few minutes or a few hours with no permanent brain damage.

TIAs can be a sign that a person is at higher risk for a stroke in the future. But just over 14 months since that episode, Kubiak said he's healthy and more than physically and mentally ready to be the 15th head coach in Denver Broncos history.

Kubiak returned in '13 to finish out the season but was fired after 13 games with the Texans at 2-11. He was the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator this season.

"I'm doing great, I'm feeling fine," Kubiak said. "Hopefully I look OK. But I'm doing fine, I worked through that. I think it's like anything else, you're giving something everything you have and that was a tough season, tough situation and I was going to keep swinging. Like I said, I probably just ran myself down a little bit too much, but I've come back from it. Everybody tells me I'm doing just fine. I took a big physical this past week, so I'm ready to go. I'm good."

John Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations/general manager, said he discussed the topic of health with his new coach.

"I think Gary, we talked about it and he said it, he said it was a good lesson for him," Elway said. "I think a lot of times, obviously my dad [Jack] was a coach and he didn't take great care of himself, so we had talked about that before. And I think, as Gary said, it was a good thing for him, because now he had to be more conscious of his health and how he was treating his body and the things he was working on."

It can be part of the learning curve on the job, surrounding yourself with people you're willing to delegate to in a profession filled with hands-on, Type A personalities. It's a profession where getting fired is part of a longer path than perhaps the coaches anticipate when they first land a top job in the league. After all, the two head coaches in the Super Bowl were both fired in their first tries -- Bill Belichick by the Cleveland Browns and Pete Carroll by the New England Patriots.

Kubiak said that in retrospect, he believes he was not willing to involve the people around him with the Texans enough in his attempts to try to correct a season that was off the rails. He added that his season with the Ravens will also have a lasting impact in how he takes on the job with the Broncos.

"Then I really can't explain the value of last year for me as a coach, being around [Ravens coach] John Harbaugh, being around that organization, being around [general manager] Ozzie Newsome, watching them go about their business, how they go about being successful week in and week out," Kubiak said. "I take all that with me as I move forward, and I know I'm a lot better coach now than I was when I left. A lot more experience. It still gets back to the people you surround yourself with. I think all coaches are only as good as the players they have and coaches they've got working with them. We'll have a great crew doing that, I promise you."
The Cincinnati Bengals have blocked co-defensive backs coach Vance Joseph from leaving for a job with the Denver Broncos, according to a report from Fox Sports.

Fox Sports' Alex Marvez, who is in Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl, reported late Tuesday night that the Bengals will not allow Joseph out of his contract in order to become the Broncos' new defensive coordinator.

ESPN Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold reported Wednesday that Denver had been informed the Bengals would not let Joseph out of his contract.

It had been reported earlier Tuesday that Bengals president Mike Brown wanted to meet with Joseph before deciding whether he would let the assistant coach leave. Brown and Joseph are both in Mobile, assisting other members of the Bengals' coaching staff and front office in scouting potential draft targets.

What set all of this in motion were the events of last Friday, when Joseph interviewed with the Broncos for their still open head-coaching vacancy. Ultimately, the job went to former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, who was introduced as the team's 15th head coach Tuesday.

From 2011-13, Joseph served under Kubiak as a Texans assistant. Once Houston transitioned last offseason from Kubiak's staff to current head coach Bill O'Brien's, Joseph was among those out of work. He wasn't out of a job long, though. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis quickly hired him as a secondary coach paired with Mark Carrier. It was a move that had many in NFL circles envious of the Bengals because Joseph, 42, has long been tabbed a coaching prospect on the rise.

It's clear the Broncos flew Joseph out to see how he might fit as a defensive coordinator. By all indications, they liked what they heard from the former Colorado Buffaloes backup quarterback, and had plans of making a move to bring him into the fold. That was until Brown and the Bengals reportedly stepped in between.

This isn't the first time Cincinnati has blocked an assistant coach from leaving. In 2011, then-defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle was blocked from interviewing with the Eagles. A year later, the Dolphins hired him as their defensive coordinator.

Regardless what Joseph's future looks like, the Bengals know they are on borrowed time with him. The way his career is trending, it is only a matter of time before he becomes a defensive coordinator and/or a head coach.

When he was first hired last offseason, Joseph harped on how technique and teaching proper fundamentals were his greatest assets as a coach. It clearly paid off this season with Dre Kirkpatrick, a third-year backup cornerback who had the best season of his career in 2014. Kirkpatrick was seldom beat and was routinely in position, even on the throws that did get by him. He also had three interceptions, including the two pickoffs he had in the final three minutes of the Bengals' Monday night win against Peyton Manning and the Broncos last month.

With Joseph reportedly staying, the Bengals will have in place a defensive staff that will move into its second season with Paul Guenther as its coordinator.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Yes, John Elway was going to always keep Peyton Manning apprised of the Denver Broncos' search for a new head coach.

Yes, Elway is going to give Manning plenty of room to make a decision about whether the quarterback does, or doesn’t, play in 2015.

[+] EnlargeJohn Elway
AP Photo/Jack DempseyJohn Elway has to make decisions on 17 Broncos scheduled to become free agents this offseason.
And yes, the Manning decision is certainly the team’s biggest question at the moment, at least in the public domain. But Elway made it clear Manning is not the only player the team is thinking about right now.

“I’m not talking to Peyton about what his plans are because I don’t think he’s ready to talk about it,’’ Elway said Tuesday as the Broncos formally introduced Gary Kubiak as the team’s new head coach. “ … I will say this: I talked to Peyton Saturday and said we were going down to talk to Gary on Sunday and it’s been a whirlwind since then. I also want to emphasize there’s 52 other guys we’ve got to worry about here. And I think we build this thing as a team. … Sure, we do want Peyton’s input, I do want to understand Peyton’s side of it, what he wants to do, but really there is 52 other guys on this roster, 10 guys on the practice squad and now guys we’ve signed to future contracts. And those guys are really, really important, too. This organization is important.’’

Following the Broncos’ Jan. 11 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC divisional round game, Manning said he could not say if he planned to return for the 2015 season. It was a departure from his statement Christmas Eve that he did plan on coming back next year “if the Broncos will have me.’’

Manning and the Broncos do face at least one deadline in the decision. Manning’s $19 million salary for the 2015 season is guaranteed if he is on the roster on the last day of the league year, which is March 9. Free agency opens and the new league year begins March 10.

Beyond Manning’s decision, the Broncos also have 17 players scheduled to be free agents -- unrestricted and restricted combined.

“So my job, as I say, sure I want to try to help and do everything I can to help Peyton with his decision. But it’s also very important that we take care of those other guys that are under contract with us that are on this football team because they’re just as important,’’ Elway said.

Kubiak said he, too, would be looking to put a hard sell on Manning, but to let the 14-time Pro Bowl selection make his decision.

“Yes, we have talked. We talked a couple of days ago at length,’’ Kubiak said. “We talked a little bit [Monday] night via text and those type of things. We talked about a lot of stuff. But the bottom line is we’ve basically come to the conclusion that -- I know he’s got some things going on, family things right now, and obviously I’ve got a lot going on here the next couple of days -- we’re going to get together and sit down. The thing I want to do, I want to be the best support system I can be for Peyton.’’
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It was a strange few days for Gary Kubiak.

One moment he had just finished his first season as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator, offering it was “flattering and humbling" to be considered as a head coach after the end of the Ravens’ season -- a divisional-round loss to the New England Patriots -- and Kubiak said he had “decided to stay with the Ravens."

That was before the Denver Broncos job was open, which came the following day, and Kubiak said it brought a change of heart.

“I had a couple opportunities come up real, real quick," Kubiak said Tuesday just after he was introduced as the new Broncos head coach. “Rhonda [Kubiak’s wife] and I talked about it, you now, what I went through the year before, I thought I was in a good place, I liked what I was doing, I knew I was learning a great deal. And I just kind of said to myself, ‘hey Rhonda I’m going to make this decision, we’re going to stay (with the Ravens). We’re going to go take a vacation, take a break. Obviously there’s been no vacation."

Kubiak played for the Broncos for nine seasons as the backup quarterback to his current boss -- the team's executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway -- and was an assistant coach for the team for 11 more years, including the team’s back-to-back Super Bowl winners to close out the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

Kubiak said when the Broncos job opened after the team "parted ways" with John Fox after Denver's 24-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and the Broncos had expressed interest, that he met with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and other team officials, including general manager Ozzie Newsome.

“Just a game-changer," Kubiak said. “This place is special to me, I started my career here and hopefully this ia chance -- I think I have a lot left in me -- to hopefully end my career here ... Just a totally different scenario for me and I know the Ravens understood that."

And it’s why nine days after saying he planned to stay with the Ravens as offensive coordinator, Kubiak was officially named the 15th head coach in Broncos’ franchise history.

“Tremendous motivation for me to come here and work for [the Bowlen] family, be a dream come true for them to hold that trophy again," Kubiak said. “[I] hope to get a chance to visit with Pat [Bowlen] here shortly."

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Now that Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak has had all of one day to get acclimated to his new office, the rather enormous question that hangs over him and his offense is whether or not quarterback Peyton Manning will be in the huddle.

But Kubiak made one thing abundantly clear on Tuesday. He will not force-feed a playbook on his quarterback. Rather, he will build a playbook for the quarterback behind center -- and that includes Manning.

Shortly after Kubiak finished his introductory news conference, Manning’s name came up again in a question. Manning is, after all, the proverbial elephant in any room since he expressed uncertainty about his playing future after the Broncos’ divisional round loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Kubiak was asked about how Manning, in the shotgun, throwing almost exclusively from the pocket, fits the version of the West Coast offense Kubiak has always called plays in. The offense, after all, includes rollouts, throws on the move and naked bootlegs with the quarterback looking to throw deep and back across the field.

“He threw 35 touchdowns last year,” Kubiak started, only to be told Manning threw 39 touchdowns.

“Thirty-nine? Was it 39? Holy smokes. Look what he continues to do," he said. "The offense Peyton runs, he’s tremendous at it. In the gun, controlling the game, controlling the line of scrimmage, nobody’s ever done it better. I mean he’s the master of that. I’m looking forward to learning the style of that system that he has.”

Kubiak was channeling his days as a former Broncos quarterback. He knows how it feels to have a new playcaller and coaching staff.

“We’re going to do what the team does best, what our players do best,” Kubiak said. “If Peyton Manning’s playing ... you’re never going to get away from that. I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to spending that time with him.”

The Broncos are not building a team to persuade Manning to return for his 18th season, and fourth in Denver. They didn’t hire Kubiak to influence Manning’s decision one way or another.

They are building a team to make the jump the Broncos have been unable to make, the one from playoff team to championship team.

Kubiak is now charged with making it happen. One of the biggest messages he sent Tuesday was if Manning doesn’t come back, Kubiak is still ready to call plays in a productive offense. In his career as a playcaller, Kubiak’s offenses have featured the league’s leading rusher, leading receiver and leading passer at varying times.

And, if Manning decides to return, Kubiak said he’s ready to construct what will work for Manning.

“It’s about fitting your system to what the players do,” Kubiak said. “We’re going to run the Denver Broncos' offense, not Gary Kubiak’s offense. ... I think Peyton’s done a little bit of everything.”

There is a "yeah-but" in all of this, however. There will be concessions on Kubiak’s part and on Manning’s part if he returns. The Broncos' offense under Kubiak will likely include a significant run-game component.

Quarterbacks in the offense will have to be on the same page with the staff about how that looks on game day.

“Extremely important,” Kubiak said. “I think being physical in this league wins consistently and that gets back to running the ball.”

In the end Kubiak, general manager John Elway and the rest of the Broncos have said they will talk to Manning as often as the league’s offseason rules allow, but that they will give the future Hall of Famer plenty of room and time to make the call.

And when he does, they will prepare the team to run the plays that best fit with whatever Manning decides.

“That’s easy to build a playbook for him, he’s been a master at it for years,” Kubiak said. “He’s a Hall of Fame player, Hall of Fame person. ... This is his time, his decision.”
On the day that Gary Kubiak arrived in Denver to become the Denver Broncos' new head coach, the Baltimore Ravens took their first step in getting his replacement from the Mile High City.

In what could end up as an informal exchange, the Ravens requested permission from the Broncos on Monday to interview Adam Gase for their offensive coordinator job, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Ravens' first known interview request comes one day after Kubiak agreed to a four-year deal with the Broncos. Gase, 36, has been the Broncos' offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, when Denver averaged an NFL-best 34 points per game.

Considered the most sought-after candidate available, Gase reportedly interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive coordinator job Sunday, has received interview requests from the Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders and has drawn interest from the St. Louis Rams.

Gase has built a reputation for being one of the league's brightest offensive minds and aggressive play-callers. He has shown the ability to adapt his offensive vision around the players' strengths, going from a pass-oriented attack earlier this year to a more run-first style by the end of it.

Asked last year to describe his offensive philosophy, Gase said, "We're looking to go pedal to the metal, play as fast as possible, be aggressive and score as many points as possible every game."
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos will formally introduce Gary Kubiak as the team’s new coach on Tuesday.

In many ways, it will be an easy move to explain to the team’s faithful. Kubiak is a former Broncos player and assistant coach. He has three Super Bowl rings -- one from when he was an assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers and two from his time as an assistant with the Broncos.

Kubiak is a good man, honorable in how he conducts himself. He took out a full-page ad in the Houston Chronicle to thank “the players, coaches and staff for their tireless work and commitment’’ and to thank the fans AFTER he had been fired by the Texans in December 2013.

[+] EnlargeBaltimore's Gary Kubiak
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesGary Kubiak's career record as a head coach is 61-64.
His former players swear by him -- a list that includes the likes of Rod Smith and Terrell Davis, and apparently one John Elway. Former tight end Joel Dreessen has said publicly he would “take a bullet’’ for Kubiak, and Jake Plummer said he wept when Kubiak left the Broncos after the 2005 season.

It’s all there with Kubiak: faith, family and football.

But the Broncos themselves have framed the discussion differently from the moment they parted ways with John Fox. He won 46 regular-season games and four division titles in four seasons in Denver, but it wasn't enough. The Broncos want to win the Super Bowl.

Elway essentially shook hands with a good guy in Fox, telling him two playoff exits as the AFC’s top seed -- a Super Bowl blowout last February to go with the double overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens to close out the 2012 season -- to go with their exit as the AFC's No. 2 seed with the Jan. 11 loss to the Indianapolis Colts would not do.

When Elway announced Fox’s departure, he said: “He’s a very, very good man. He’s got a tremendous heart -- even the new one they fixed is still tremendous -- a guy that I will always have a personal relationship with. When we did get up and he left the room, we gave each other a hug and wished each other the best of luck. That relationship will always remain that way.’’

So clearly it isn't about being a good man, it is about playing football at the highest level. The level that wins championships.

Kubiak has led an NFL team before. His record in eight seasons with the Houston Texans was 61-64. They made the playoffs twice in 2011 and '12, winning a game before losing the next in both cases.

The Texans struggled on defense in Kubiak’s tenure, until he hired Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator. Things also got away from Kubiak at quarterback in his final season. Matt Schaub seemed to to lose confidence after a flurry of interceptions returned for touchdowns, and the losing appeared to take an enormous toll on Kubiak as he tried to make it right.

These are different situations, teams in different places to be sure. When Kubiak took the Texans' job before the 2006 season, they were a two-win team with an atrocious roster.

But his tenure showed how important his defensive staff was to his success. Phillips’ hire snapped the defense in order. Rick Dennison’s hire as offensive coordinator a few years into Kubiak’s tenure also bred success as the team's running game and offensive line play improved. Dennison will be on Kubiak’s staff with the Broncos, but how he fills out the rest of that staff will determine a lot about how things go in the seasons to come.

It is always a question of personnel, coaching or both. The Broncos believe Kubiak is the coach who can take a team Elway thinks has top-quality personnel and keep it playing into February.

Still, if the loss to the Colts showed anything, it’s that assignment discipline matters, schemes matter and players digesting information and playing in the moment matter. The Patriots and the Seahawks, two teams that defeated the Broncos this past season, showed where the get-it-done bar in the league sits right now.

Kubiak’s Texans never played beyond the divisional round and now he has been tasked with taking the Broncos to a championship. He will use what he learned in Houston, where he was expected to win.

But in Denver, he will be expected to win a lot more.
Exactly one week after Gary Kubiak released a statement that he was remaining the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator, he agreed to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos.

Everyone should be ticked off at Kubiak for breaking his word to the Ravens, right? Not really.

When Kubiak announced he was staying, he was withdrawing his name from the head coaching searches for the New York Jets, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. He obviously didn't know his good friend and Broncos general manager John Elway was going to part ways with his head coach one day later.

Kubiak's biggest mistake was bad timing. His dream job -- perhaps the only one he would leave the Ravens for -- opened up after he made a nice gesture of publicly telling other teams how committed he was to the Ravens.

Kubiak spent 20 years in Denver as a player and a coach. He worked closely with Elway as his backup, offensive coordinator and even roommate on road games. Kubiak came to the Ravens from Houston, but Denver is his football home.

It would be surprising if anyone in the Ravens organization expressed any animosity toward Kubiak. Even though he was with the Ravens for one season, he wasn't seen as someone who would intentionally mislead the team. He was a straight-shooter, not a self-promoter. His only objective was to improve the Ravens offense, which he successfully did. This is why Kubiak declined any head coaching interviews while the Ravens were in the playoffs.

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith expressed the same sentiment with a post on Twitter: "How can you be mad at a guy who did his job and was rewarded with a dream opportunity that WASN'T available when he said he was staying?"

Kubiak should be applauded for what he accomplished in his brief stint as the team's play-caller. For one of the few times in the Ravens' 19-year existence, there is excitement surrounding the Ravens' offense. Kubiak got quarterback Joe Flacco and the running game back on track. The Ravens finished with their highest offensive ranking (No. 12) in 17 years. He gave the Ravens their blueprint in how to get the offense clicking.

The Ravens have to be disappointed that Kubiak's stay was all too brief. It's only conjecture now how Flacco and the rest of the offense would've progressed with Kubiak running the offense for a second season.

When the Ravens play at Denver in 2015, it won't be a revenge game. The Ravens will simply be upset at losing a strong coach like Kubiak to an AFC team that has similar Super Bowl aspirations.
The Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff will undergo another big turnover for the second straight year.

Less than an hour after offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak reportedly accepted the Denver Broncos' head-coaching job, a league source confirmed that quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani are following Kubiak to Denver.

Many expected both Dennison and Pariani to leave because they came from Houston to Baltimore with Kubiak last offseason. But there had been speculation that either Dennison or Pariani might stay to take over as offensive coordinator.

This means the Ravens have lost five coaches over the past six days: Kubiak, Dennison, Pariani, secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo (who became the New York Giants' defensive coordinator) and offensive quality control assistant Jay Harbaugh (who became the University of Michigan's tight ends coach).

The Ravens will add a new offensive coordinator, tight ends coach and secondary coach for the third offseason in a row.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has shown the ability to put together a staff and not experience much of a transition. The Ravens have never had a losing season in Harbaugh's seven seasons, and they've reached the postseason in six of them.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As several teams line up to interview Adam Gase for their offensive coordinator jobs, the Denver Broncos moved quickly to talk with him about their head coaching job.

[+] EnlargeAdam Gase
AP Photo/Eric BakkeAdam Gase will talk with John Elway on Thursday about the head-coaching job with the Broncos.
Gase, who met briefly with Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway on Wednesday, was set to interview for the job Thursday afternoon and into the evening, if necessary.

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will interview with the Broncos on Friday. They have formally requested permission to talk with Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. As of Thursday afternoon, the Broncos were still waiting to hear back from Kubiak, who announced this past weekend -- before the Denver job was open -- that he intended to stay with the Ravens.

For Gase, the Broncos interview comes as several teams had begun to express interest in him as an offensive coordinator.

Three of the four teams Gase interviewed with during the Broncos’ playoff bye week -- the 49ers, Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears -- have either hired head coaches or are closing in on a candidate. The Bears are nearing a deal with Fox, while the Bills hired Rex Ryan. Gase also interviewed for the Falcons’ head coaching job, which has yet to be filled.

Those in and around the Broncos say Gase has drawn interest in recent days from a wide-range of teams to be their new offensive coordinator, including two (49ers and Falcons) who interviewed him for their head coaching jobs. The St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars have also expressed interest.

In the two seasons Gase has called plays for the Broncos, they have averaged 34 points per game, including an NFL single-season record of 606 points in 2013. The Broncos also topped 40 points 10 times in the past two seasons combined and topped 50 three times, including in back-to-back games early in the 2013 season.

What about the inevitable question about how Gase would fare without Peyton Manning as his quarterback? Well, Manning has said Gase would raise the level of any offense. His 55 touchdown passes in 2013 were an NFL record and six more than he had thrown in any other season. Manning has also reached out to other teams, including the Cleveland Browns last season, to vouch for Gase.

"I don't think you need me to sit up here and campaign for him," Manning said. "Last year I talked to a couple teams on the behalf of him that reached out to me. That may happen again, so I'm certainly glad to share my thoughts ... He deserves it, I think teams that he talks to will be impressed.''

Gase is also respected in football circles. He's had stints with Nick Saban at Michigan State and LSU and former Rams coach Mike Martz in the NFL. He was also instrumental in the deconstruction of the Broncos' offense in 2011 to build a read-option look for then-starting quarterback Tim Tebow.

If the Broncos went with Austin as their head coach, he would be far more apt to try to keep Gase on his staff. Kubiak would be more involved in the offense, and many with the team believe he would want to bring Rick Dennison, the Ravens wide receivers coach and Kubiak’s former offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans, with him to Denver if Kubiak were hired.

And as far as the other teams hoping to get a shot at Gase? The Rams have an unsettled quarterback situation and will likely ask Sam Bradford to restructure his contract. He is coming back from ACL surgery. Meanwhile, the Jaguars offer Blake Bortles, who threw 11 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions this past season as a rookie starter for a 3-13 team.

And for the 49ers and Falcons, Gase is known to have thoroughly outlined to those teams’ decision makers how he would help elevate the play of Colin Kaepernick or Matt Ryan.

But first, he gets his shot to talk with the Broncos.