When Gary Kubiak accepted the offer from the Baltimore Ravens to be their offensive coordinator for the 2014 season (and possibly beyond), in the back of his mind, I'm sure one of the key reasons was to rebuild his coaching image that was left at the bottom of a football well at the end of the Texans' 2-14 finish in 2013.
Kubiak wanted to remind people that, once upon a time, he could cobble together a pretty nice offense, and with the right pieces, he was pretty good at dialing up some football plays that would go for many yards and lots of points.
And guess what? Mission accomplished!
The 2014 Ravens were offensively the most prolific in the history of that franchise, Joe Flacco was rebuilt into something resembling a possible elite quarterback, and the Ravens were back in the postseason.
Hell, even in defeat, Kubiak came out looking like a hero in their 35-31 loss to the Patriots, an effort widely thought to be torpedoed by a porous defense and bad turnovers (hooray for "player" mistakes!).
The perfect Kubiak parlay was finally closed out when, just two days after he issued a statement saying how excited he was to return to Baltimore in 2015 and that none of the head coaching openings were intriguing enough to him, the one job that would be intriguing enough to Kubiak opened up -- and so it was that Gary Kubiak became the 15th head coach of the Denver Broncos.
Now, I've said all along that the one thing Kubiak should consider if and when he takes another head coaching job is surrounding himself with some more divergent opinions, and not falling into the trap of just reprising a pool of his old Bronco buddies (even if they would all, in fact, now be Broncos!).
Clearly, Kubiak does not value my advice.
His first order of business was to bring along his offensive lieutenants, Rick Dennison to coordinate the offense and Brian Pariani to coach the tight ends. They were with him in Houston, with him in Baltimore and, by God, they were going to Denver with him. Kubiak without Dennison and Pariani would be like Tony Soprano without Silvio and Paulie.
Subsequently, it was reported that Kubiak would likely keep Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith on his Denver staff. Smith was Kubiak's defensive coordinator his first three seasons in Houston, to very little critical acclaim (but lots of criticism!).
Then, late Thursday night, it was announced that Kubiak was bringing over another of his Texans hires, defensive line coach Bill Kollar (one of two Kubiak holdovers still with the Texans on Bill O'Brien's staff). Kollar, 62, will be taking over the same position in Denver that he's held in Houston for the past few years.
A big draw for Kollar is that he has family in Denver, including his grandchildren, with whom he is very close. For that reason, Bill O'Brien allowed Kollar out of his contract with the Texans. Kollar was understandably thrilled. Courtesy of John McClain with the Houston Chronicle:
"It was a really nice thing OB (O'Brien) did to let me go to Denver," Kollar said. "I've got two grandsons there I really want to be around. Now I can spend more time with them.
"It was definitely a tough decision to leave the Texans. I had a great time coaching in Houston. We did some really good things. I really appreciate what OB did for me. I enjoyed working with him this season.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to work with Gary again. I want to thank him for giving me this opportunity to come to Denver."
Kollar's masterpiece in his time in Houston is undoubtedly his role in the development of J.J. Watt into the best defensive player in all of football, a huge contributing factor to his being kept by O'Brien in the transition from the Kubiak Era to 2014.
Not all teams are as accommodating as O'Brien was for Kollar. Former Texans defensive backs coach Vance Joseph, now in that same role with the Cincinnati Bengals, found that out the hard way when Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis blocked him from interviewing for Kubiak's defensive coordinator post.
Never fear, though! The well of former Texans coaches runneth over! The rumor mill is now reporting that Wade Phillips, Kubiak's defensive coordinator from 2011 through 2013, and his interim replacement after being fired in 2013, will be interviewing for the same role with Kubiak and the Broncos.
Dennison, Pariani, Smith, Kollar, Phillips.....
Indeed, Gary is getting the band back together in Denver. For the sake of Broncos fans' sanity, I hope the second act is better than 61-64.
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