The Atlanta Falcons moved quickly and hired Dirk Koetter to call plays for the offense. In doing so, the Birds lost out on the best coordinator to run the offense, Gary Kubiak.
When denied permission to speak to Gary Kubiak, the Atlanta Falcons quickly moved to make Dirk Koetter their offensive coordinator. Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk wrote about Denver denying teams, including the Falcons, permission to speak to Kubiak here.
The reason that the Denver Broncos denyed teams a chance to talk to Gary Kubiak, is that they wanted to keep him around in case whoever they hired to be the head coach. However when the team hired Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to be the new head coach, Fangio and Kubiak didn’t see eye to eye on offensive philosophy.
Now Gary Kubiak is free to speak with whatever team he wants and will certainly get interviews for vacant offensive coordinator positions.
Gary Kubiak was a backup to Hall of Fame quarterback and current general manager John Elway with the Denver Broncos for nine seasons. They played under Mike Shanahan, the father of former Falcons offensive coordinator and current San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Mike Shanahan is the architect of the offense that the Falcons have run for the last four seasons. Shanahan’s version of the offense was a more power oriented style, in which the quarterback is under center more often than not. The scheme featured the zone blocking scheme in the run game, just as the Atlanta Falcons offense does.
Gary Kubiak runs a more modern version of the offense just like Kyle Shanahan runs. This is the version of the offense that helped Matt Ryan win the NFL MVP award in 2016. In fact Kyle was the offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans for two seasons under Gary Kubiak as head coach.
It would not be a reach to think that Gary Kubiak knows the offensive scheme that the Atlanta Falcons have run for the last four years, better than Kyle Shanahan does.
Gary Kubiak was groomed as an offensive coordinator by the two-time Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan. He was offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos for 11 seasons. This includes the Super Bowl winning seasons of 1997 and 1998. Unfortunately the 1998 victory came at the expense of the Falcons.
The Mike Shanahan, Gary Kubiak offenses were top ten in the NFL every season except two, and top five in eight of eleven seasons. Incredibly they were top three more than fifty percent of the time, ranking there six times. Two of those times, the Denver Broncos offense was the top unit in the entire NFL.
In the worse season that the Mike Shanahan, Gary Kubiak pairing had together, Denver finished number 22 in yards, yet they still were the number ten scoring offense in the league. Overall the Gary Kubiak coordinated offenses, finished with an average ranking of number six in eleven seasons. That is incredible production.
The amazing offensive success in Denver, led to Gary Kubiak becoming the head coach of the Houston Texans in 2006.
Kubiak installed his offense in Houston and it paid dividends. He overcame growing pains, improving the team from number 28 on offense in his first season, to number three in year three, Kyle Shanahan’s first as offensive coordinator. They also finished fourth in Kyle’s second year as the offensive play caller.
Current Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Matt Shaub was the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans, for seven of the eight seasons that Gary Kubiak was the head coach in Houston, so Gary has multiple ties to the Atlanta Falcons organization.
Gary Kubiak’s Houston offenses averaged a ranking of 10.4 in eight seasons. His offenses were top ten in half of the eight seasons, and top three, three times. He was fired near the end of the 2013 season in a down year.
Kubiak resurfaced as the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014. He immediately improved the Ravens offense from a struggling number 29 to a respective number 12. They were the number eight scoring offense.
Following the 2014 season his former teammate John Elway offered Kubiak an opportunity to coach the Denver Broncos team than he formerly played for. He accepted and crafted an offense to make newly acquired veteran quarterback Peyton Manning comfortable.
Gary Kubiak combined his zone blocking scheme with many of the shotgun principles of the Indianapolis Colts offense. He also allowed Peyton Manning to run a lot of no huddle offense.
Kubiak’s offenses were not great in his return to Denver, as Peyton Manning was a shell of his former self due to injuries robbing him of arm strength, and Trevor Siemian was a rookie. They ranked 16 and 27. However the team was good enough to win the Super Bowl in Kubiak’s first season at the helm.
Gary Kubiak resigned and moved into the front office after the 2016 season due to health concerns. He has worked in that capacity until now where he looks to return to his passion, calling plays. Yahoo sports Michael David Smith is reporting that Kubiak could go to the Jacksonville Jaguars as offensive coordinator.
The Atlanta Falcons have made an error in judgment by not waiting to see how the Denver Broncos coaching search played out. Gary Kubiak would have been the perfect man to call plays for the Atlanta Falcons. The transition would have been seemless for all players, as the terminology of the offense is the same.
Instead of having Steve Sarkisian calling plays for an offense that isn’t really his, Atlanta could have had a master of the scheme calling the plays in Kubiak. Gary would have been good for Matt Ryan by giving him some of the same no huddle freedoms that he gave Peyton Manning. He is also a quarterbacks coach by trade.
More than just a great play caller, Gary Kubiak has a winning pedigree. He has a grand total of four Super Bowl rings. Three of his rings were a with the Denver Broncos, two as player and one as the head coach. His first ring came as a quarterbacks coach with the San Francisco 49ers in 1994.
Dirk Koetter is a good offensive coordinator who is familiar with Matt Ryan. However the issue is he typically doesn’t run a zone blocking scheme. Dan Quinn wants to keep running the zone scheme. I questioned rather that would be an issue for Koetter in this article.
It’s quite clear to me that the Atlanta Falcons made the wrong choice by hiring Dirk Koetter too soon. Only time will tell rather this mistake will be fatal, or something the Dirty Birds can overcome in their quest to win the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
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