Not often does a head coach open the season against their previous employer, yet Sunday, Gary Kubiak will do just that and the team he will be coaching is not a stranger to the Baltimore Ravens either. The familiarity between the two teams will add even more emotion and intrigue than National Football League season-openers already posses.

Kubiak spent several years in Denver and Houston and just one in Baltimore as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator but the experience was an enlightening one.

“It was very valuable. On my coaching tree, from a fortunate standpoint, I haven’t been too many places. I’ve really just been here and in Houston. I got to see something different, but I got to see success. I got to see an organization that is very consistent, successful and be around some great people. Anytime you get a chance to do that in life, regardless of what you do, you grow from it, so it was very positive.”

Both the Broncos and Ravens were playoffs teams in 2014 and are poised to return to the postseason. Kubiak’s one year in Baltimore will definitely influence the game despite his insistence that it isn’t uncommon to have connections with many teams when you have been around the league as long as he has.

“Most guys, if you’ve been in this league a while, you’ve probably been a few places. That’s the way that it works, so we tend to see a lot of guys that we’ve coached with or players that we’ve had on our teams. Now it’s about the players, it’s about getting ready to play and two good football teams going at it,” Kubiak stated plainly Wednesday.

During Kubiak’s one season in Baltimore he resurrected the running game behind Justin Forsett and helped Joe Flacco ascend to a truly elite quarterback level. The team set franchise records in yards gained (5,838) and points scored (409). Just like he helped accentuate Flacco’s skill set in 2014, Kubiak is looking to evolve his concepts to the Broncos and Peyton Manning.

“I think that we’ll be able to do a lot of things. I think that I’ve said that many times, but what’s important is what you do best. I think that we have the ability to do a lot of things scheme-wise, but as we go it’s just important to continue to isolate on the things that we’re doing the best.”

That will include C.J. Anderson, who earned a Pro-Bowl selection with an impressive run from week 10 to the playoffs in 2014.

“I think that he’s earned every opportunity that he’s gotten, or the one he’s fixing to get. I think that he’s had an excellent offseason and training camp. It’s a big stage,” Kubiak said of Anderson Wednesday. “Obviously, we have to help them up front, we have to help him as coaches, but he’s put in the work.”

The Broncos will have to contend with an experienced and versatile Ravens defense that Manning has seen three times since his arrival to Denver. After an excruciating 2012 playoff loss to the Ravens, Manning bounced back with an incredible seven-touchdown home opener win in 2013. Now under Kubiak’s offense there will be some changes in the game plan but a lot of the players will be the same.

“I’m looking forward to Sunday and looking forward to seeing how we’re going to perform. We’ve got some new guys playing and we’ve got some new things that we’re doing. (I am) excited to see how we’re going to do,” Manning said Wednesday. “Baltimore is an excellent defense. Are you going to dominate all four quarters? I don’t know if anybody’s ever done that against Baltimore. Hopefully you can win enough plays and be efficient enough where you can do well enough to win the football game.”

The Ravens and the Broncos have similar defenses. They both contain multiple pass rushers from Von Miller to Terrell Suggs and are extremely active against the run. Last season they both were near the top of the league in run yards allowed per game, ranking second (Denver) and fourth (Baltimore). It is a commonality Manning noticed and commented on Wednesday.

“Similar to our defense, those guys can change a game. They can cause disruption. We feel fortunate to have a couple of guys like that on our team. Everybody has to do their part in order to help with those guys,” he said of addressing the Raven defense. “I see it as quarterback getting the ball out on time, receivers getting open on time, backs helping and tight ends helping. Everybody’s got to do their part in order to help against their top pass rushers.”

The fourth face off with Baltimore in as many seasons will create a buzz of its own. Throw in Kubiak’s previous season with the Ravens and the home opener, it makes the game highly anticipated and possibly more significant than most. The emotions and subplots are something Manning knows his team must keep in check in order to beat a very good week one opponent.

“I think season openers are similar to playoff games. There’s a lot of energy, a lot of juice. Guys are pretty fresh out there and playing with a lot of speed. The key is just being able to kind of do your job and execute. We’re certainly glad to be playing at home. We feel like the fans ought to be fresh, as well, and loud. We want to use that to our advantage. In order to beat Baltimore, everybody’s got to be doing their part.”

One thing Kubiak rarely does is show emotion. The mellow coach from Houston, Texas has seen 21 NFL season openers as a coach, but this one will surely be different. Despite his calm demeanor, his return to the Broncos sideline as the 15th head coach in Broncos history, against the team he coached just last year, will surely add some “juice” Manning referenced to the head coach’s first week of the 2015 season.

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