Denver Broncos new head coach Gary Kubiak is at the NFL Combine this week with the rest of Broncos Brass, and he's saying things about next season that should get Broncos Country back on the straight and narrow to focusing forward rather than falling back.
Of course questions on Peyton Manning's future with the Broncos dominated much of the conversation but the former Broncos backup QB pointed out that Manning and GM John Elway have been just going about this as necessary.
"It's the offseason. [Manning] just got through with the season," Kubiak said. "Peyton needed time to assess his situation, his health--those types of things. John has a lot of things on his plate too, so I think it's just the NFL offseason I guess."
And despite all kinds of speculation on whether the five-time NFL MVP quarterback could fit into a Kubiak offense, the new coach didn't hesitate.
"You have a guy with that type of experience that's been doing it for that long. Obviously you're giving him all the freedom you can give him because he's been so successful doing it," Kubiak said of using Manning. "I think he can do anything he wants to do. You do what your players do best."
Kubiak has visited with Manning - no football on the agenda, but the coach does feel good about where Manning is with his process.
"He's very positive in his talking to me; he was very positive with John when he came to town last week," Kubiak said. "So we continue to move forward, and I'll let him and John work that out."
But the important question, of course, is whether Kubiak wants Manning as his quarterback.
No questions there.
"No doubt I want him to be," Kubiak said. "I think all indications are that [through] everything he said and through his conversations with John he feels good. He's had his self-assessment or however you want to label that and he feels good about moving forward. We'll just continue with the process."
And so shall we. Manning will decide, and the Broncos will move fast and furious as Free Agency hits the calendar in a few short weeks (hallelujah!)
As for Denver's own free agents, Kubiak indicated the Broncos wish they could keep all of them.
"The key in this business is holding your football team together and getting better at the same time," Kubiak noted. "Elway has done a great job with that in Denver. I'll leave that to him."
Asked specifically about Rahim Moore and Wes Welker, Kubiak said he has spoken to both - as he has with every player on the team - but he leaves the future-on-the-team issues to Elway.
"I know we're going to do everything we can to hang on to our players, but at the same time you have to put yourself in position through free agency and the offseason to get better as a football team," Kubiak said. "We would like to hang on to everybody. We want to keep the team intact as best we can."
In one of the more interesting exchanges, Kubiak mentioned that the current personnel "definitely fit" his offensive line scheme, adding that "that's not an issue" and hinted at going back to original positions.
"The biggest thing I can see, there was a lot of movement because of some injuries to guys having to move outside, those types of things. And there are some good young players in the building that I know that John and his staff think very highly of," Kubiak said, adding that being good on offense and defense always starts up front. "So I think we've got some work to do and hopefully we get it settled down a little bit with some of the movement that took place because of the injury situation."
Kubiak also noted that moving to a 3-4 defense isn't that big of a jump for the Broncos.
"I think a 4-3 team that plays an under front...that's no different than playing the 3-4. So I think there are a lot of similarities right there," Kubiak said, confirming that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips believes the 3-4 fits the Broncos' personnel quite well. "With Von Miller having the ability to play on the edge as well as play some off the ball. So we just think it's an easy transition with him and DeMarcus Ware, and where we want to go. I don't think it's that big of a change, really, because of the under front."
Noting that it's only natural to look at successful teams who have set the bar high for others, Kubiak was clear that the Broncos need to focus on what they do best and not just try to be like another team.
"Denver has been very successful too," Kubiak said. "I think you look at your situation, how do you get better? You've got to stay focused on yourself. I think if you're worried about everybody else or chasing one team, you're probably going to make some mistakes so we'll stay focused on us trying to get better, try to hang on to some of our guys here, try to get better in free agency, try to get better in the draft and move forward and go to work."