Denver Broncos: Defining Gary Kubiak’s Legacy

Nov 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak stands on the sideline during action against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak stands on the sideline during action against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

Did the Denver Broncos win the last two seasons because of Gary Kubiak or in spite of his coaching style? We take a look at his legacy with the Broncos.

Whenever a head coach leaves a team, whether it be voluntary or not, it’s always interesting to look at their body of work during their tenure with a team. Although Gary Kubiak only spent two seasons as head coach of the Denver Broncos, overall the results were mixed. One season saw a Super Bowl title. The next completely missed the playoffs altogether. So was Gary Kubiak a great head coach or was he overrated? Let’s take a look at both arguments.

“He was a great head coach”

As a head coach, Gary Kubiak posted a career record of 82-75 record in the regular season and 5-2 in the postseason. He captured his only championship as a head coach at the end of the 2015 with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

During the season Kubiak had to manage with injuries and poor play from future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. During Denver’s postseason run Kubiak was able to manage an ineffective offense well enough to allow one of the best defenses in recent memory to win the games.

The Super Bowl saw more of the same. The offense and defense each scored a touchdown as Denver defeated the heavily favored Carolina Panthers 24-10. During the season he also made Brock Osweiler look like a quality quarterback, which seems like a small miracle now.

In his previous head coaching gig Kubiak led a young Houston Texans team to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. His offensive ingenuity made Matt Schaub a two-time Pro Bowler.

When Peyton Manning became available after his release from Indiannapolis, the Texans passed feeling that Schaub would be better than Peyton. Let that sink in for a minute.

Prior to his health scare in 2013 that saw him collapse on the field at halftime, Houston looked like a team on the rise. Improving from a 6-10 finish in 2010, the Texans would post records of 10-6 in 2011 and 12-4 in 2012 making the playoffs both years. The wheels came off in 2013. Before being fired, he went 2-11.

A winning record in the regular season, 5-2 record in the postseason including a Super Bowl title all while leading teams led by Matt Schaub and Brock Osweiler. How can Gary Kubiak NOT be seen as a great head coach??

Overrated Coach?

In the season prior to Gary Kubiak’s arrival in Denver, Peyton Manning threw for 4,727 yards (2nd highest of his career) 39 touchdowns (3rd highest of his career) and had a quarterback rating of 101.5 (5th highest of his career).

Most anyone who watched football knew Peyton liked to work out of the shotgun so that he could read the defense and make adjustments at the line. Kubiak didn’t allow that. In a square-peg-in-a-round-hole situation, Kubiak refused to budge.

Wanting Manning to play a zone-read offense while working under center a majority of the time, Peyton Manning was clearly uncomfortable.

Throwing 17 interceptions in his first 7 games of the season, Manning finished with 2,249 yards in 10 games, lowest of his career. His completion percentage (59.8%) and yards per attempt (6.80) we his lowest since his rookie season. Manning only managed 9 touchdown passes on the season after averaging more than 2 touchdown passes per game for his career prior to Kubiak.

His quarterback rating of 67.9 was by far the lowest of his storied career as well.

Most football insiders said this was a result of Gary Kubiak’s ego not letting him have Peyton Manning tell him how to run the offense. Kubiak’s record prior to coaching Manning? 61-64 regular season, 2-2 in the postseason.

The two clearly had a bumpy relationship that Manning was none to shy to express, giving Kubiak the middle finger while rehabbing his foot.


In 10 seasons as a head coach between Denver and Houston, Kubiak managed 10+ wins only 3 times. The rest was mostly either 9-7 or 8-8 records.

Next: Top 10 Denver Broncos Players of 2016 Season

The season prior to Kubiak coming to Denver, the Broncos offense was ranked 4th in the NFL in yards per game while finishing 2nd in scoring at 30.1 points per game. Kubiak’s first season in Denver watched the offense drop to 16th in yards per game and 19th in scoring at 22.2 points per game. The next season dipped even further to 27th in yards per game and 22nd in scoring at 20.8 points per game.

So what do you think? Great coach or overrated? Let me know what you think in the comments!