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Lunchbreak: Kubiak’s Past Success Could Help Boost Vikings Ground Game

The Vikings brought in Gary Kubiak as assistant head coach/offensive advisor as one of three offensive additions the team announced Monday.

Kubiak, who is a four-time Super Bowl winner, will help assist Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski with Minnesota’s offensive game plans on a weekly basis.

And if history is any indication, it’s safe to say the Vikings could see an uptick in rushing attempts and production than what the offense showed in 2018, as Tim Yotter of Viking Update wrote that Kubiak’s past success in the run game should translate well in Minnesota.

Yotter wrote:

It wouldn’t be surprising at all to assign Kubiak as the team’s run-game coordinator, whether by title or responsibility. That was essentially the role that former offensive line coach Tony Sparano had with the Vikings in 2017 under offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and Zimmer praised the influence that Sparano had on the organization before his unexpected death just days before the start of the team’s 2018 training camp.

The Vikings ranked 30th with 1,493 rushing yards in 2018, and were 27th with 357 total carries this past season. Minnesota was also 25th in the league by averaging 4.18 yards per carry.

Yotter delved into Kubiak’s coaching history and found that his previous teams have had a knack for toting the rock.

Despite being in the bottom half of the league in offensive yards and points in 2016 with Kubiak as head coach, the Broncos were 15th in rushing attempts, and they were 17th in rushing attempts and yards in 2015.

As the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014, they finished 12th in yards and eighth in points. The Ravens were 11th in rushing attempts that season and eighth in rushing yards.

When Kubiak was head coach of the Houston Texans from 2006 to 2013, they ranked in the top 10 in offensive yards four times – they were third twice and fourth once – and top 10 in points scored twice. In 2011, the Texans had the most rushing attempts of any team and the second-most rushing yards. They ranked in the top 10 for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns three straight seasons, from 2010 to 2012.

Since he was either a head coach or offensive coordinator in the NFL, starting in 1995, Kubiak’s offenses have ranked first or second in rushing attempts six times, and 11 times were in the top 10. His offenses were top five in rushing yards 10 times and top 10 in rushing yards 14 times in those 22 years.

Kubiak will be joined on Minnesota’s staff by his son, Klint, who is the new quarterbacks coach. Brian Pariani, a longtime friend of Kubiak, will be the Vikings tight ends coach.

Krammer rates Cousins’ first season with Vikings

Kirk Cousins had an up-and-down first season in Minnesota as the Vikings finished 8-7-1 and missed the postseason.

The quarterback became the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000-plus yards, complete more than 70 percent of his passes and throw at least 30 touchdowns with 10 or fewer interceptions.

But Andrew Krammer said Cousins also struggled with fumbles, inconsistent play from his offensive line and in big moments as the Star Tribune sports writer gave Cousins a grade of ‘average’ in 2018.

Krammer said Cousins can throw one of the best deep balls in the league but needs to improve in other areas going forward.

Krammer wrote:

Cousins’ play under pressure, a reason why the Vikings sat at 5-3-1 entering the Week 10 bye, fell off upon returning from the bye to play in Chicago. He was the NFL’s third-rated passer under pressure (91.5 rating) in Weeks 1-9. His rating under pressured dropped to 22nd (69.5) in Weeks 11-17, when the Vikings had four games against three top scoring defenses in Chicago, New England and Seattle and [Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer fired [Offensive Coordinator] John DeFilippo.

Shortening the play calls was one change under Kevin Stefanski, which is not a small adjustment considering their spotty hurry-up offense.

Slow starts also anchored the offense after the bye. Five of the last seven games began with a three-and-out series.

Krammer graded Cousins at a 3.0 out of a 5.0 scale.

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