Tuesday, Gary Kubiak returned to the franchise that was his home for 20 amazing years. This time around he will be the man in charge of taking John Elway’s roster and turning it into a world champion.
As President and CEO Joe Ellis, Elway and Kubiak spoke Tuesday it was clear on their faces and in their words that all parties involved were ecstatic to start the new era in Broncos history.
Ellis began the press conference calling Kubiak “the perfect fit” and made it evident why they brought Kubiak back. “One thing is clear about Gary Kubiak. He is a Bronco.” The once former player and offensive coordinator couldn’t hold back his smile throughout the conference. He called the Bowlen family, Ellis and Elway “family” and detailed his feelings when he landed yesterday saying, “When I got off the plane yesterday I knew I was home.”
Elway detailed the coaching search that started eight days ago and acknowledged that Kubiak was immediately at the top of his list. He emphasized Tuesday exactly why.
“I know his goals are the same as mine. That is to win and to win world championships. To have that ability to be able to have a guy like Gary that you trust, that I trust, that I respect deeply about his football knowledge and what he can do for this football team, hopefully to take it to that next level—he’s got all those qualities.”
After several inquires were made after the NFL regular season, Kubiak made a statement that he was staying with the Ravens. But after John Fox’s departure he called the job opening with the Broncos “a game changer” and decided quickly this past Sunday that he would return to Denver.
“We did the contract in about five minutes I think,” Kubiak said with a grin. “It was very comfortable for me.”
Now that he has been hired he understands the pressure surrounding the team and is ready to embrace the high expectations that Pat Bowlen and Elway have placed on each and every season.
“When you work in this business that is opportunity you want. You want a chance to win a championship. You want to be around people that that is the way they go about their business. I see that as a plus. That is something I welcome and look forward to.”
Elway and Kubiak both spoke about their lengthy friendship but added the importance of the business of winning. Each will have their defined roles but Elway commented on Kubiak’s input on personnel moves within free agency and the draft.
“We’re going to have all those meetings, and I guarantee, Gary and I are going to come out of the room with the right decision for the Denver Broncos. Gary’s going to have a great influence on this team and how we shape this team.”
Kubiak described Elway as “the most competitive being I have been around” and is not surprised by his friend’s success in the front office and despite their mutual respect he was clear who is in charge moving forward. “Believe me, he’s the boss,” Kubiak said with a chuckle. “I want to coach, he can be the boss.”
Much has been said about Elway’s comments on the heart of the 2014 team and the idea of “kicking and screaming” when the team faces adversity and getting to the next level. Kubiak addressed that subject briefly Tuesday.
“You have to make sure you are positioning yourself all the time to taking that next step.” He elaborated later on that idea saying, “Hopefully you are kicking and screaming every week, not just one week and that’s what we are going to try to do. There is no substitution for playing hard. If you are doing those things, good things will happen to your football team. That’s a mindset you better have everyday.”
Kubiak then addressed the system he will be running and the future of Peyton Manning with the Broncos. He said he had spoken with Manning and emphasized that Manning can fit in his offense saying, “That’s easy to build a playbook for him.” He added that he was looking forward to learning from the style of system Manning has been playing in Denver.
Kubiak stated emphatically that the will do what fits the personnel of the Broncos best regardless of his past.
“We are going to the Denver Broncos offense not Gray Kubiak’s offense. We are going to fit it to our players and what they do best.”
He plans on speaking with every player within the organization and by some reports he has already hired several coaches to his staff. According to the Denver Post’s Mike Klis, Rick Dennison and Brian Pariani have been hired as the offensive coordinator and the tight end coach, respectively. Klis also reported that current Broncos’ coaches Eric Studesville, Greg Knapp, Tyke Tolbert and Clancy Barone have been retained with only Barone switching positions to offensive line coach.
Tuesday he would not confirm the reports of new hires or the vacant spots on the defense despite being actively searching for his staff already.
“The wheels are turning. I’m working on that ask we speak. But I really think we stay away from that right now. I’d hate to jeopardize anything we have going on. I do want to get it done as quickly as I possibly can.”
Regardless of the offensive coordinator position Kubiak acknowledged that he would love to call the offense, something he has done throughout his career and even as the head coach for the Houston Texans.
Vance Joseph is the front-runner for defensive coordinator job. Joseph spent last season as the defensive backs coach for the Cincinnati Bengals and also has ties to Colorado. He played quarterback for the University of Colorado before moving to cornerback in the NFL. He coached with Kubiak from 2011-13 as the defensive backs coach and he also interviewed for the Broncos head coach position last Friday.
Kubiak said all the right things Tuesday and he surely still fits the mold of a Bronco. The familiarity and camaraderie he has with Elway makes it seems like a perfect fit. However, everything is golden until losses pile up and only a hard-nosed approach with get this team to where both Elway and Kubiak have been together. After all the pleasantries and hugs were handed out, Kubiak finished his opening statement saying, “Thank you Pat. Thank you so much for bringing me home.” But the most important words and possibly the most pertinent he said all day came directly after when he said, “Now it’s time to go to work.”