We heard all the talk the past 10 days or so. Gary Kubiak isn’t leaving the Ravens. He is very happy being their offensive coordinator. He’s not an administrator, but an X’s and O’s oriented type of a guy. He is a teacher, and has health concerns to boot. He is building a house in Owings Mills. Obviously working for your old roommate whom you were the back up QB to for 9 years up in Denver does have a tendency to change one’s mind. That and the nice contract a head coach would expect, are enough to sway anyone to change their mind.
The Ravens are better off for it, and I’ll tell you why. Gary Kubiak is a good man, a likable man. However, as a head coach, his record stands at 61-64, and he is 2-2 in the post season. He is Norv Turner in a different shell – both much more effective offensive coordinators than head coaches. That bodes well for the Ravens, as they face the Broncos in the future. That is, if the Broncos make the playoffs with the consistency that the Ravens have been making it for the past 7 years. If Peyton Manning doesn’t play in 2015 (he and the Broncos have until March 9 to decide) then Kubiak will start Brock Osweiler at quarterback. I don’t know that either one of these QBs are a good fit for Kubiak’s offense.
There are quite a few people in Denver that feel Elway’s hiring of Kubiak is an attempt to push Manning out the door, since he is owed $19 million on March 9, and he had a dismal outing against the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs. Manning said he had a thigh injury that contributed to his performance, but to my untrained eye it was obvious he had lost quite a bit of steam off of his fastball.
The Ravens are a top notch organization, and will attract the best talent that is out there. They have a history of doing that. Baltimore is an attractive destination for coaches, because due to their consistent success, they frequently spawn head coaches in the NFL. Kubiak, Caldwell, Del Rio & Del Rio (2nd time), Pagano, just to name a few of the most recent one’s. They have a plan in place and will be methodical in their search for an offensive coordinator, but they will not cast as wide a net as they did a year ago. Joe Flacco had his best season in Kubiak’s scheme, and the Ravens are actively looking for a Kubiak clone so to speak.
The word on the street is that the best fit for the Ravens is Denver QB coach Greg Knapp. He is a better fit than Adam Gase, who was Denver’s offensive coordinator. Knapp has been described in some NFL circles as a Rick Dennison clone, and that the two are very similar in their philosophy, approach and execution regarding offensive football. Knapp comes directly from the Mike Shanahan-Gary Kubiak coaching tree, and is very well versed in the zone blocking scheme. Broncos fans are quick to point out that Knapp has been instrumental in Osweiler’s development, and feel that the 6’8″ third year pro out of Arizona State could capably replace the legendary Manning.
The 51 year old Knapp has an impressive body of work in the NFL. He was the Atlanta Falcon’s offensive coordinator and helped Michael Vick develop into a 2-way threat. He was Matt Schaub’s quarterback coach in Houston when Schaub was making the playoffs and Pro Bowls. And he was also the offensive coordinator in Oakland, where he installed the zone blocking scheme. The result was that it launched the career of running back Darren McFadden, who prior to Knapp’s arrival had not lived up to his pre-draft expectations.
The Ravens need to move relatively fast if they want to land the best candidate for their vacant offensive coordinator position, as the demand is heavy for the top coaches that are still available.