Speculating on Gary Kubiak’s potential expanded role with Broncos

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25: Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos watches from the sidelines during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on December 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25: Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos watches from the sidelines during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on December 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images) /

For the past three seasons, Gary Kubiak has been working with the Broncos. He could be in line for yet another employment opportunity with the team…

Gary Kubiak and John Elway were both brought into the Denver Broncos’ organization in 1983.

Elway, of course, was part of one of the most famous NFL Draft trades of all-time, while Kubiak was a rather unremarkable eighth round draft pick.

Kubiak spent nine seasons in the NFL, all with the Denver Broncos, as Elway’s backup. He started five games, winning three, while playing spot duty in all of his other appearances.

The playing career of Kubiak was about as good as one could have hoped of an eighth round quarterback at the time, but what he learned while on the sideline and spending all those years watching film paved the way for Kubiak’s coaching career, which started at Texas A&M.

He was hired to work with the Aggies’ running backs for two years before being hired by the San Francisco 49ers as their quarterbacks coach, where he won a Super Bowl in his first year as an NFL position coach.

In 1995, Kubiak was hired by the Broncos as their quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, a role he held until 2002 when he was strictly the offensive coordinator.

After the 2005 season, when Kubiak coached a Broncos offense that featured two stellar running backs in Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell, as well as an MVP candidate in Jake Plummer, Kubiak was hired by the Houston Texans to be their head coach.

Kubiak was the Texans’ head coach until 2013, when they had the worst record in the NFL. He was fired, and quickly picked up by John Harbaugh as the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator.

After proving his offensive scheme was still excellent in Baltimore in 2014, Kubiak had all but sworn off head coaching, and said he was content with his coordinator gig.

That was, until his old pal Elway came calling.

The Broncos were fresh off of a disappointing 2014 season, and Elway agreed to part ways with John Fox, who reportedly wanted the Chicago Bears job at the time.

With a head coaching vacancy and a Super Bowl ready roster in Denver, the match was too perfect for Kubiak to ignore.

Kubiak was hired as Denver’s head coach in 2015, and won a Super Bowl in his first year with the team in that capacity.

It was his third Super Bowl title as a coach with the Broncos, the first two obviously coming when Kubiak was Elway’s position coach and offensive coordinator in the late 90s.

Following the 2015 season, Kubiak went 9-7 as head coach of the Broncos, and stepped down after the season for health reasons. He was later brought back to the Broncos as a ‘Senior Personnel Advisor’.

His role was a bit confusing at least in terms of the exact job duties, but apparently, Elway has liked the work Kubiak has been doing all year.

Working mostly from his home in Texas while commuting to Denver only as needed, Kubiak is reportedly going to be offered a promotion within the Broncos’ front office.

What could this role entail?

Is John Elway going to relinquish some of his power on draft weekend? Could Kubiak orchestrate the draft altogether? Will Kubiak spearhead a new coaching search? Could it be that Kubiak will be the point person for all new free agent possibilities, like a head coach recruiting in college football?

My guess is, Kubiak will do a little bit of everything, but I think his main focus will be in the area of holding Elway accountable.

It’s what Kubiak has done best his entire football career.

Elway has made plenty of mistakes as an executive in the NFL, most notably his inability to effectively build the Broncos an offense through the draft while building a powerhouse in free agency that brought two AFC Championships and a Super Bowl title to Denver.

The Broncos have needed some significant help in the drafting department, and perhaps Kubiak can provide that.

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Another area the Broncos could be making a major shakeup in is the head coach position. I personally feel like Kubiak had a hand in the hiring of Vance Joseph, who was initially Kubiak’s top candidate to be the Broncos’ defensive coordinator in 2015.

The Bengals blocked Joseph from that move, and the Broncos hired Wade Phillips instead.

The rest is history.

If Kubiak liked Joseph enough in 2015, it’s possible he put in a really good word to Elway when Elway was considering the options to replace him.

There have been rumors that Elway would be looking to add to his entourage in the front office, and it makes sense that one of his most trusted guys in the entire business — Kubiak — would be the one selected to be his right-hand man.

There’s another deeper post yet to be written about how this movement could be an early signal of Elway’s interest in passing the GM baton to Kubiak down the line, while Elway takes on a more administrative/ownership role with the team, but that’s another topic for another day.

For now, Kubiak seems to be getting promoted after doing what Elway deemed to be a very good job over the course of the year putting something together for this team to get better and back to its winning ways.