On Monday morning, the Denver Broncos officially introduced Gary Kubiak as the fifteenth coach in franchise history. Kubiak, who has spent twenty years with the Broncos organization, nine as a quarterback (1983-1991) and eleven as offensive coordinator (1995-2005), received a four-year deal from the club.
John Elway was clear in his press conference following John Fox's departure, the next head coach of the team would have to be someone with winning experience, and that requirement rang true in Kubiak. The 31-year NFL veteran has been part of 17 playoff teams during his playing and coaching career, 12 of which won division titles, and six of which were World Champions. Elway spoke very highly of this winning value that Kubiak brings to the club in the team's announcement:
"Having coached on three Super Bowl champions and 11 playoff teams, Gary knows what it will take to deliver another World Championship to Broncos fans" explained Elway, and he didn't stop there: "Coach Kubiak is all about winning and doing things the right way, which are values that have always been most important to the Broncos owner Pat Bowlen."
Elway is no stranger to the success that Kubiak has had as a coach, mainly because he was also a benefactor of, and contributor to, that success. Kubiak's 11 years as the Broncos offensive coordinator were marked by an extremely successful offense that led the league in points per game (25.2), total yards (365.0 per game), and rushing yards (142.2 per game). Kubiak was the offensive coordinator for the Broncos' back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998, and coached some of the greatest Broncos offensive players in the team's history, including Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith, along with John Elway of course.
Although he was incredibly successful in Denver, Kubiak has excelled with numerous coaching positions in the NFL. In 1994, he started his career with a bang, winning a Super Bowl and coaching Steve Young to an MVP award in his first year as an NFL coach in San Francisco. After his 11 years within the Broncos organization as a coach, Kubiak coached the Houston Texans for eight seasons, earning a record of 61-64 in that time. The highlight of those eight years came in 2011 and 2012, when the Texans won back-to-back division titles (their first and second ever) and won their first franchise playoff game, with a 22-10 record over that span. In his eight years in Houston, Kubiak's Texans teams excelled on both offense and defense, ranking in the top seven offensively four times, and the top seven defensively in three straight seasons.
Most recently, Kubiak coached Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens offense to a successful 2014 season, helping the team improve in numerous areas. Most significantly, the Ravens saw the third-best improvement in yardage per game (+57.5 ypg) under Kubiak, which went hand-in-hand with a -60% decrease in sacks allowed. Ravens QB Joe Flacco enjoyed career success under Kubiak, setting career numbers in passing yards (3,986) and touchdown passes (27). Running back Justin Forsett also earned his first Pro Bowl berth in Kubiak's Ravens offense, rushing for a career-high 1,266 yards.
Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis provided a shining review of the team's new head coach, summing up exactly what was so attractive about him to the organization:
"Gary has been a part of the Broncos' family for two decades, and has proven himself as a highly successful head coach and assistant coach in the NFL," explained Ellis, "From his time in Denver, he completely understands-- and has contributed to-- the culture of winning that has established throughout Pat Bowlen's ownership. Gary also respects what the Broncos mean to this community and the special connection this team has with its fans."
Questions remain about whether or not Peyton Manning will be back, who Kubiak will bring in as assistant coaches, and how his system may or may not mesh with Manning's play style if he is back; however, it's hard not to be excited with the possibilities that lie ahead with a coach that is a proven winner, and a proven Broncos winner at that.