Gary Kubiak's departure to become Broncos head coach appears imminent

The Ravens knew that if offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak wanted to interview for the Denver Broncos' head-coaching vacancy, the job was probably his. Since late last week, they've been preparing for his departure, which now seems imminent.

Kubiak spent Sunday meeting with Broncos officials, who appear to have honed in on the Ravens' offensive coordinator as their top choice to replace John Fox. Denver general manager John Elway, team president and chief executive officer Joe Ellis and personnel department executives Matt Russell and Tom Heckert traveled to Kubiak's hometown in Houston to make their pitch.


While no official announcement was made Sunday, indications are that Kubiak could be named the Broncos' head coach within a couple of days, returning him to the place where he spent 20 years as either a player or assistant coach.

One source characterized Sunday's talks between the Broncos and Kubiak as more of a meeting to work out details and plans rather than a formal interview since both sides know each other so well. The Ravens understood that if Kubiak, who turned down interviews for the Chicago Bears and New York Jets' head-coaching vacancies, wouldn't have met with Denver officials unless he had intention of taking the job if offered.


Elway, Kubiak's close friend and former teammate, has no other interviews scheduled, leaving Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Cincinnati Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph as the only other known candidates.

Gase, however, appears likely to accept another offensive coordinator job elsewhere, and Joseph, who was on Kubiak's Houston Texans staff, is the favorite to become the new defensive coordinator in Denver. Two other candidates — former Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone and Detroit Lions defensive coordinator and former Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin — have both canceled interviews with the Broncos, presumably because of the industry-wide perception that Elway will hire Kubiak.

The Ravens, meanwhile, have been discussing contingency plans for Kubiak's departure since last week, and they also have been hearing from candidates interested in the offensive coordinator job, according to sources. The position is highly regarded in NFL circles as the Ravens are coming off a season in which they finished 12th in total offense. They also have a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Joe Flacco and a young and talented offensive line.

But maintaining offensive continuity and momentum over the years has been a struggle. When Denver's hiring of Kubiak becomes official, the Ravens will be looking for their fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons. Head coach John Harbaugh also may need to reshuffle his offensive coaching staff for a second straight season.

Quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison, who had a strong relationship with Flacco, and tight ends coach Brian Pariani are both candidates to follow Kubiak to Denver. When he accepted the Ravens offensive coordinator job last offseason, Kubiak brought both Dennison and Pariani with him to Baltimore.

If Dennison stays, which several sources view as unlikely, he would be the most logical replacement for Kubiak. The Ravens feel like they found an offensive philosophy this past season that meshes perfectly for Flacco, who had arguably the best season of his career in Kubiak's zone-running, quick-passing and bootleg-heavy scheme.

Dennison would allow the Ravens to continue in that system, and prevent Flacco from having to learn an entirely new offense for a second straight offseason.

As far as outside candidates, Kyle Shanahan, a former offensive coordinator of the Texans, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, stands out as someone who runs a similar scheme as Kubiak. He was a finalist for the Ravens offensive coordinator job last year and the team maintains a high opinion on him, according to sources.

However, Shanahan is also viewed as a candidate for the Bears and Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator openings. Gase and former Bears head coach Marc Trestman are two other high-profile candidates available, but Harbaugh doesn't have direct ties to either.

Last year, Harbaugh personally oversaw an extensive search for a replacement for former offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell when he was hired as the Detroit Lions' head coach.

The Ravens interviewed several coaches before hiring Kubiak, including: former Ravens wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, Shanahan, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks coach and current New York Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan, former New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach and current Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, Central Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe, former Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach and current Minnesota Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson and former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator and current Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

It's unclear how quickly the Ravens will want a new offensive coordinator in place if Kubiak does leave. Harbaugh and his staff are due in Arizona early this week to coach one of the Pro Bowl teams. Other team officials will be in Mobile, Ala., for Senior Bowl week.


What is clear is that Harbaugh has known for several days that the Ravens could lose Kubiak, and he has been preparing for that outcome, whenever that may be.

Denver likely would avoid making a significant announcement on Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and they also probably wouldn't want to create the perception that they are trying to upstage Fox, whose introductory news conference as the new head coach of the Bears is Monday.





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