ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In a decision that will certainly stun many of the Denver Broncos‘ faithful, Gary Kubiak will not be a part of Vic Fangio’s coaching staff after all, sources told ESPN on Friday.
Kubiak’s potential return to the staff — something team president of football operations/general manager John Elway said was a possibility the day after the Broncos closed out their 6-10 season — had been one of the most talked-about topics in the team’s coaching search. Vance Joseph was fired Dec. 31 after two seasons on the job.
Although Kubiak will not be on Fangio’s staff because of differing ideas about the team’s potential offensive philosophy as well as some of the other assistant coaches on offense who would be hired, sources said, the possibility remained Friday that Kubiak could remain as part of the Broncos’ personnel department.
It was unclear, however, what would happen if another team pursued Kubiak with a coaching opportunity.
The Broncos were also talking to Mike Munchak about a spot on Fangio’s coaching staff, sources said, and a deal could be finalized as soon as the weekend. Munchak, whose contract as offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers is set to expire, was one of the five candidates the Broncos interviewed for the head-coaching job and decision-makers had narrowed the choices to Munchak and Fangio.
Kubiak, the head coach for the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 victory, stepped away from coaching after the 2016 season due to health concerns. He has been in the personnel department for much of the last two years and was given an expanded role in personnel this past season.
Overall, Kubiak has spent almost a quarter century with the Broncos, including nine years as a player, 11 years on Mike Shanahan’s coaching staff and his two years as the team’s head coach.
Just before Fangio was formally introduced as the team’s 17th head coach Thursday, he had an extended sit-down with Kubiak and Elway said he planned to meet with Kubiak later that day.
When Fangio was asked about the possibility of Kubiak joining the coaching staff he said: “None of the assistant coaching positions have been determined yet, and until things are ironed out and iron-clad, I prefer not to comment on that. But Gary is a hell of a coach. He’s a guy that I have respected throughout my career in the NFL, having competed against him at several stops. If Gary is interested, then I’m interested.”
And Thursday afternoon, Elway had added: “I know Vic met with Gary (Thursday). I haven’t had a chance to a sense of that meeting. I have talk to Vic. I think Gary would like to go on the offensive side, but none of that has been settled.”
The Broncos, who have used four different starting quarterbacks in the last two seasons, finished 19th in offense this past season and 24th in scoring. The team finished 26th in scoring in 2017 and 22nd in scoring in 2016.
Just after season’s end Elway talked about the important of finding some “continuity.” The 2019 season will mark the fourth different offensive coordinator the team has had in a four-season span.
“We definitely have to get better on the offensive side,” Elway said the day after the season ended. “That starts with some continuity. It’s going to be very important for us to get some continuity on the offensive side. This will be our fourth system in four years. That is something that we’re really going to concentrate on, getting some continuity. That’s what comes with the same system and finding the right guys. That’s going to be a big part of it.”
When asked what he wanted in an offense, Fangio said Thursday:
“We talked about an offensive philosophy and I believe in balance, but, balance immediately comes to your mind is run and pass. There are other things that need to be balanced in offensive play. Do you throw it short, intermediate or deep? Do you run in inside, outside or have deceptives? Do you run gap schemes and zone schemes? Are you play-action, movement passing game? When I say balance, I’m not necessarily talking about how many runs and how many passes. You need to have balance within your passing game and in your running game. I know that from having to defend it. That’s what we’re looking to do.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter contributed to this report.