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Influences Abound for Klint Kubiak in Transition to Vikings OC

The influences are many.

They include heralded old-school coaches that are decades into their positions (and one who recently retired) in the NFL as well as one who was just named NFL Coach of the Year by The Associated Press.

Experience of growing up a coach's son couldn't help but impact Klint Kubiak, who on Tuesday was promoted to become the new offensive coordinator of the Vikings.

Kubiak, who will turn 34 this month, admitted his initial plans involved a double-digit NFL career as a player.

"I was naive enough as a player to think I would play in the NFL for 15 years and I put all my time and energy into that, and when that was over I had the ability to be a graduate assistant and developed a love for the coaching side of it," Kubiak said. "Certainly it wasn't something I planned on but something I grew to have a great passion for."

When a pro career didn't follow his time as a defensive back at Colorado State (2005-09), Kubiak shifted to a role as a quality control coach for Mike Sherman (2010-11) at Texas A&M. When Kevin Sumlin (head coach) and Kliff Kingsbury (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach) arrived in Aggieland, Kubiak shifted to coach inside receivers as a graduate assistant the following season.

He wrapped a Master's degree in human resource development before joining the Vikings for the first time in 2013 as a quality control/assistant receivers coach.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer kept Kubiak on his staff in the same role after taking the helm in 2014.

It was during those two years in Minnesota, at no-frills Winter Park, when Kubiak gleaned multiple lessons from Kevin Stefanski at roughly the midpoint of the Browns head coach's 14-season run of various roles with Minnesota.

In 2013, Stefanski completed his fifth season as Minnesota's assistant quarterbacks coach before his first of two seasons as the Vikings tight ends coach.

Kubiak and Stefanski forged a strong relationship during that time. When Stefanski was promoted to Vikings offensive coordinator in 2019, he brought Kubiak back to Minnesota to be quarterbacks coach after Kubiak had coached receivers at the University of Kansas (2015) and worked as an offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos.

"I'm so grateful for that relationship, and we go back to working in the back room of the old building," Kubiak said. "I have a lot of great memories there. Kevin has taught me a lot, and not just the second time I worked for him. I got to work for him back in the Winter Park days, and there were so many times when he had his own plate of responsibilities but he would take me aside and explain something to me or help me do my job better when he didn't have to, and that's just the kind of guy he is. High-character guy and certainly a role model."

Kubiak said his experience under Sherman, Sumlin, Kingsbury, Leslie Frazier, Zimmer and "multiple different coordinators" has been "invaluable."

"You take so many from all those different voices and try to become your own," Kubiak said. "I've been so fortunate to be around quality coaches and really high-character people that you see you can have success by doing things the right way. It's certainly something I've taken from Coach Zimmer, seeing how hard he works, the way he treats people. He demands a lot out of his coaches, but he's going to be fair, and you know what you're getting from him. There's so many different examples I could go through. I've been very blessed to be around so many different voices."

Kubiak has helped Kirk Cousins turn in the two best statistical seasons of his career with a passer rating of 107.4 in 2019 and a 105.0 in 2020 thanks to a strong final 10 games. Cousins, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson are the only quarterbacks to rank in the top 10 in passing yards, touchdowns and yards per attempt since 2019. Check out other stats and rankings in the Vikings 2020 Season in Review from the Vikings PR department.

"I am thrilled for Klint to get the opportunity to be our offensive coordinator," Cousins said in a statement Tuesday. "Having the chance to work with him on a day-to-day to basis the last two seasons has helped me grow both as a player and a person. His sharp mind and even-keel demeanor will serve him well as a play caller. We will all benefit from the continuity Klint provides, and I'm looking forward to working with him in this new role."

Zimmer added: "I'm happy to keep consistency of the scheme and the staff on the offensive side of the ball for 2021. I believe in the system and the coaches we have. Klint will do a great job leading them and continuing to put our players in position to maximize their skills."

Kubiak said his upbringing by Gary Kubiak, who spent the past two seasons on the Vikings staff and retired after serving as offensive coordinator in 2020, enabled him to learn through "osmosis [from] just being around him."

"There's not one thing I can speak of, but the thing that comes to mind is treating people with respect and being organized, being demanding and being fair, and everything else will take care of itself," Klint Kubiak said, "so I was really blessed to be able to work with him for these last two years here."

Kubiak said it's a "true blessing" to have so much continuity returning on Minnesota's offensive staff. That will include Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Rick Dennison, tight ends coach Brian Pariani and Andrew Janocko, who will coach quarterbacks after working with wide receivers in 2020.

Minnesota announced Tuesday that two-time Pro Bowl receiver Keenan McCardell will coach fellow Pro Bowlers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson in 2021.

Kubiak said he wants every assistant coach to "challenge me every day" and he'll do the same.

"I want to challenge them so we can get the best out of each other, because certainly we're not going to go anywhere standing still and resting on our laurels from years past."

"If we don't evolve, then we'll be left in the dust," Kubiak added. "That's every team in the NFL, always trying to find ways to evolve your scheme and trying to make yourself less predictable. And that goes, this time of year is a heavy self-scout time of year and studying other teams, but certainly we don't want to be rigid. We want to be open to growth just so we can produce on Sunday."