EAGAN, Minn. — Gary Kubiak missed the foxhole that comes with coaching, the feeling of grinding through a week and the joy of a victorious Sunday.
So when Kubiak had the chance to join the Vikings last month after spending the past two seasons as a personnel advisor in Denver, the 57-year-old jumped at the chance.
Kubiak won’t be the Vikings head coach, of course. Nor will he be the offensive coordinator. Mike Zimmer and Kevin Stefanski, respectively, have those titles.
But Kubiak will be the assistant head coach/offensive advisor as he gets back in the coaching saddle for the first time since 2016.
“After doing personnel for a couple years in Denver, I knew I wanted to do some more [coaching]. When I stepped away from [coaching] a couple years ago, I kept working and found myself wanting to do more and more,” Kubiak said Thursday at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. “I made a decision [and said,] ‘Hey, I’m going to get out there and go a little bit longer and try to win a few more games.’ I’ve known Zim’ for a long time and respect him as a person and as a coach and I respect how he tries to win. We’ve had some conversations through the years, so it was an easy talk for me to visit with him if he was interested in me doing something for him.
“I wanted to be smart. I knew I didn’t want to come back and be a head coach. It wasn’t that direction, but I did want to be involved. I missed it,” Kubiak later added. “Heck, when I was involved with personnel, I didn’t get a lot of calls from people asking to come work in personnel. People asked me to stay involved in coaching, and this gives me an opportunity at this stage of my career to still be involved. It’s a unique opportunity the way this thing is set up.”
The Vikings introduced special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf, assistant head coach/offensive advisor Gary Kubiak, quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak, offensive line coach/ run game coordinator Rick Dennison, tight ends coach Brian Pariani, and wide receivers Drew Petzing to the media on Thursday afternoon.
So what will be Kubiak’s role going forward as he helps the Vikings through the next few months and into the 2019 season?
In short, Kubiak said it’s his job to be a sounding board for Stefanski, who is entering his first full season as an offensive coordinator. It was revealed Thursday that Stefanski will call plays from the sideline on game days while Kubiak will offer a bigger perspective from the booth.
“Obviously, I’ve been in this league for a long time,” Kubiak said. “I love this league, I love the game … to have the chance to get back in that room and get back in that foxhole a little bit, I’m really looking forward to it.
“When I watch Kevin work every day … we have a good group in our room, we’ve got some veteran guys who have done this a long time and have got some very bright, young coaches on their way up. … Kevin is a very smart guy, and he’s great with people. I’ve been very impressed,” Kubiak later added. “I think, as a group, Kevin has a job to do, and it’s our job as coaches to help him in any way we can.”
Stefanski, who has been with the Vikings since 2006, chuckled and said it was a “no brainer” to add a respected and veteran voice such as Kubiak to the staff.
“I’ll tell you from my perspective, a first-time coordinator, I would have been foolish not to go do everything in our power to bring in a guy who has been in seven Super Bowls as a coach and player, called the plays the last time he won the Super Bowl,” Stefanski said. “So as a resource for me, I can’t tell you how lucky I am.
“As we put our system together — I talked previously about pulling it apart and putting it back together — as we put it together, I have a resource sitting next to me who has done it and done it at a high level,” Stefanski added. “It’s just been really pretty special.”
And as Stefanski alluded to, Kubiak has plenty of clout that comes with his resumé.
Kubiak was a three-time Super Bowl champion while with the Broncos, including as Denver’s head coach in a 24-10 win in Super Bowl 50 against Carolina. He also won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998 when he was the Broncos offensive coordinator.
Kubiak earned his first Super Bowl ring in 1994 as the quarterbacks coach with the San Francisco 49ers.
Kubiak has nearly 10 years of head coaching experience in the NFL and has an 82-75 overall regular-season record. He was the head coach in Houston for nearly eight seasons from 2006-2013 and went 61-64 while leading the Texans to a pair of AFC South titles and two playoff appearances.
Kubiak then spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the head coach in Denver, compiling a 21-11 record.
And although Kubiak can’t improve his coaching record going forward, he’s glad to help out in any way he can, especially if it means getting the chance to be a coach again.
“[Coaching] really makes you appreciate what you’re a part of. I’ve been in this league 30-something years as a player and a coach. Heck, I missed it,” Kubiak said. “There’s something about at the end of the week … did we get a W or not? And that feeling [that comes with it].
“Working in personnel was fun, and I enjoyed that portion of it … but I missed being in there with some of those coaches,” Kubiak added. “I love being around players. I love to teach. It gave me an opportunity to get back in the game.”