Gary Kubiak to leave Ravens to become Denver Broncos coach, source says

Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston gives his rant after Gary Kubiak decided to leave the Ravens and join the Denver Broncos. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

The Ravens will need to hire a new offensive coordinator, after all.

Just seven days after saying that he would remain with the Ravens, Gary Kubiak will be named the new head coach of the Denver Broncos, according to a source, returning him to the organization that he spent 20 seasons with as either a player or assistant coach.


Kubiak spent Sunday meeting with Broncos officials, who honed in on the Ravens offensive coordinator as their top choice to replace John Fox. Broncos 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.

By day's end, the two sides agreed to a four-year deal as Kubiak will get his second head-coaching shot. A formal announcement will come early this week.


"Kubs did a great job with us and gets another shot at a dream job for him," Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith said on his Twitter account, describing Kubiak's opportunity as "pretty cool."

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 knew each other so well. The Ravens understood that Kubiak, who turned down interviews for the 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.

The news became little more than a formality after Kubiak decided to interview with the Broncos. The Ravens had been counting on Kubiak coming back and directing an offense that made great strides in the only year under his tutelage. The Ravens set single-season franchise records in points (409) and yards (5,838), and quarterback Joe Flacco set career highs in touchdown passes (27) and passing yards (3,986).

Now, Flacco will need to get used to his fourth different offensive coordinator in as many seasons, and head coach John Harbaugh will be forced to endure more turnover on his coaching staff. Ravens quarterback coach Rick Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani, who came with Kubiak to Baltimore after working under him in Houston, are expected to follow him to Denver.

That means the Ravens will have to find a new offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach and secondary coach after Steve Spanguolo was hired last week as the New York Giants defensive coordinator. Ironically, Harbaugh's staff was picked to coach one of the Pro Bowl teams this week because the Broncos' staff was in flux.

Harbaugh is expected to start a search for an offensive coordinator immediately. That search won't include Kyle Shanahan, the runner-up to Kubiak last year when Harbaugh found a replacement for Jim Caldwell. Shahanan, who spent this past season as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator but resigned a few weeks ago, will be the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, according to a source.

Other names that Harbaugh could consider are ex-Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman, former Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Broncos quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp.

The Ravens' organization breathed a sigh of relief when Kubiak announced last Sunday that he was turning down interviews for the head-coaching openings with both the New York Jets and Chicago Bears to stay with the Ravens for a second season.

"It is flattering and humbling to be invited to interview for a number of NFL head coaching positions, and I greatly appreciate these opportunities," Kubiak said in a statement released by the team. "But I have decided to stay with the Ravens. This is a special organization and we, like John says, are building something great. I want to be a part of that and contribute in whatever ways I can."

But when the Broncos' head coaching job become open — John Fox and the team parted ways after a playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts — that changed everything. Kubiak and Elway are former teammates and roommates, and they remain extremely close friends.

Kubiak, 53, was the backup quarterback to Elway with the Broncos from 1983 to 1991. He then returned to the organization in 1995 and spent 11 seasons with the Broncos as either the offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach, winning two Super Bowl rings in the process.

Kubiak was extremely happy in Baltimore and was planning on living in the area year-round with his wife, Rhonda. He clicked with Flacco, who flourished in Kubiak's offense, which called for the quarterback to get rid of the ball quicker and use his legs more. The Ravens' running game also was revitalized in Kubiak's zone-blocking schemes.


Those close to Kubiak said he was energized just being able to focus on leading the offense and calling plays after spending the previous eight seasons as the Texans' head coach and dealing with all that entails. But his ties to the Broncos' organization and his desire to be a head coach again proved too much for the Ravens to overcome.

Kubiak went 61-64 in his first stint as a head coach with the Texans. He was fired in 2013 season with the Texans in the midst of a 2-11 start. It was a difficult year overall for Kubiak, who suffered a mini-stroke while walking off the field at halftime of a game.

Kubiak, though, said several times during this past season that he felt good and was having no issues.

He now takes over a Broncos' team that won 46 regular-season games over the previous four seasons but has come up short in the postseason under Fox, losing in the divisional round three times and then to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl last year.

Denver has several key free agents and quarterback Peyton Manning hasn't said definitively that he'll play next season.




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