Tomorrow, the Denver Broncos will introduce Gary Kubiak as their new (and improved) head coach. Rejoice, Broncos fans.
By all accounts, Kubiak is one class act. Unlike John Fox, who was planning his escape the morning of the Broncos' divisional playoff game, Kubiak handled his dismissal from Houston two years ago with respect, dignity, and humility. So, make no mistake about it, the Broncos are getting a great human being.
But the narrative gets better. The Broncos will never again go gently into that good night otherwise known as the NFL playoffs. They'll go kicking and screaming; they'll tear out your eyes and rip off your testicles (except in the case of the Raiders, who have none).
It's the narrative we all want to believe, the one that Joe Ellis (who I trust about as much as a Goldman Sachs CEO during the banking crisis) and John Elway are selling--the Broncos under John Fox (a really nice guy, too, we were told before) were unprepared and lackadaisical.
Gary Kubiak will motivate this team to the next level.
Interestingly enough, the narrative that haunted Fox at his depature is the same one that haunted Kubiak a year ago when he was fired. Here's one take from the local CBS affiliate in Houston:
Those back-to-back AFC South division championships Kubiak referenced in his statement released through the Texans Friday afternoon didn’t cure the disdain that fans had for his ineptitude in managing a game, preparing his personnel week in and week out, the ill-disciplined team this 2013 Texans team has become.
I’m not sure at what point, but Bob McNair has known for a little while now that he was going to fire Kubiak. He won’t admit it, but he’s known. What else could McNair have done with the situation after Kubiak pulled Case Keenum for Matt Schaub in the third quarter for the second time in four games? What else could McNair have done after Kubiak refused to hold DJ Swearinger accountable for his poor play Thursday night?
From this account, it looks like John Fox isn't the only one who can mismanage a game and leave his team unprepared.
But wait, it gets better. Here's another take from Jerome Solomon with the Houston Chronicle:
Unfortunately for him [Kubiak], mediocrity was the standard. After 5 1/2 seasons, 88 games, he had the same number of wins as losses and had not made the playoffs. A few weeks ago, coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, he had posted 61 wins and 61 losses. Really, it was about time. Watching his team match a team record for penalties (14) and set a new one for penalty yards (177) Thursday against the less-talented Jaguars was the final straw for McNair, but the entire season of failure is what doomed Kubiak.
The Texans need new blood, a new coach, a new philosophy. McNair mentioned innovation as a criterion for the next Texans head coach. Eight years with Kubiak was enough. His approach had grown stale. His squad was undisciplined and looked lost. The quarterback shuffle was embarrassing and the team's mistakes were at times laughable. The Texans never quit, but they stopped expecting to win. And whenever you enter a game not expecting to win, you're most likely going to be a loser.
Sound a little (or a lot) like John Fox, minus the quarterback controversy?
Here's a final comment on Kubiak from Randy Harvey, also from the Houston Chronicle, when Kubiak was fired:
As Texans coach, Kubiak would have tried to run for the first down, keeping the drive alive for a short field goal instead of going for the jugular. Kubiak took risks. He surely took risks in almost eight seasons with the Texans. But who remembers him for them? He's remembered for not taking them.
Remove Kubiak's name, and who do we have? That's right, folks. We have John Fox.
I'm certainly not trying to rain on anyone's parade, and certainly not John Elway's. Elway has my undying loyalty for lifting the Broncos out of obscurity in the 1980s, winning two Super Bowls in the 1990s, cleaning up the sippy cup mess that was Josh McDaniels' drafting of Tim Tebow, and finally, bringing Peyton Manning to Denver.
But let's face it--nepotism ain't just a river in Egypt.
That's not to say Kubiak isn't qualified. He assuredly is. But, as a fan, I don't like being misled. This isn't about kicking and screaming.
Rather than lob out platitudes about attitudes, Elway should simply admit what we all know to be true: people like working with people they like to work with.
I'd be okay with that. In the NFL, where your chances of success are small, and as we saw yesterday with the Seattle Seahawks, luck can overcome talent and preparation, you might as well go down with people you get along with. And if you want to kick and scream (or question a player's manhood like Matt Millen), more power to you. But don't hide your friends Kubiak, Rick Dennison, and Alex Gibbs inside some orange and blue pom poms and expect us to do the wave.
Still, I'll do the wave, and here's why--this is a quarterback-driven league, and without a quarterback, you're not even sniffing the postseason. Kubiak does quarterbacks, which by itself increases the chance of success after Peyton Manning is gone.
Aye--this move makes sense for one simple reason, and that reason is Brock Osweiler. Osweiler is the perfect quarterback for Kubiak's play-action, rollout, and bootleg offense. Osweiler is mobile and strong-armed; even better, he will only have to read half the field on most plays. Osweiler, assuming he's made even a modicum amount of progress in the last few years, can make this offense go. Matt Schaub looked like a gladiator in Kubiak's offense. Osweiler has a real chance to escape the sands of the arena.
Kubiak will bring the Broncos back to the future, where tight ends and running backs are rock stars (hello, C.J. Anderson and Julius Thomas), but most of all, Kubiak will ensure the Broncos have a quarterback to keep them from becoming average.
No one ever took a bullet for average.