Legendary Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman spoke with another legend recently to ask former Broncos and Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan about new Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary Kubiak and quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Shanahan's connection with Kubiak goes all the way back to the mid-80s when Shanahan was Denver's offensive coordinator (1985-87) during part of Kubiak's time as John Elway's backup (1983-91).
Kubiak retired as a player in 1991, then coached running backs at his alma mater, Texas A&M, for two seasons before Shanahan recruited him to join George Seifert's staff in San Francisco for a 1994 season that ended with a 49ers victory in Super Bowl XXIX.
"At that time when I was at San Francisco I had been interviewed, and when I got the job [then-49ers coach] George Seifert had asked me, 'Would you bring in a coach that you think would be the coordinator when you left?' " Shanahan recalled to Hartman. "He was thinking there was going to be some opportunities for me to be a head coach in the National Football League.
"I said, 'Well, I have the perfect guy, right now he's at Texas A&M [where Kubiak was a running backs coach], but if I can get him I think he'd be a guy that can take over as offensive coordinator," Shanahan continued. "If I can get him. That's when I brought in Gary."
Shanahan and Kubiak headed back to the Rockies the following season as the Broncos head coach and offensive coordinator, respectively, and they notched two more Super Bowl wins in 11 more seasons together before Kubiak was named head coach of the Texans.
Hartman noted that the Broncos ranked in the top 10 in offense in nine of those 11 seasons.
"We had a good system and good players to go with it," Shanahan said. "Gary is a guy that was always on the cutting edge for offensive football, and he has always studied the game. It has always been a part of his life."
Shanahan became head coach of the Redskins in 2010, two years before the team drafted Cousins in the fourth round.
Cousins didn't emerge as the starter in Washington until 2015, two years after Shanahan's final season, but the quarterback impressed.
Shanahan said he thinks the addition of Kubiak to an offense coordinated by Kevin Stefanski will work well and that Kubiak and Cousins "are very easy to work with, both are extremely bright, have great work ethics and I think both will work together perfectly."
"You have the right [quarterback] there," Shanahan told Hartman. "Not everybody can see that, but hopefully when they get him a supporting cast, people will see that."
NFL's Competition Committee to meet Monday
It's officially Combine Week, the point on the calendar when the NFL descends on Indianapolis to evaluate draft-eligible prospects during medical screenings, on-field workouts, official meetings and media sessions.
The get-together also includes an opportunity for the NFL's Competition Committee to discuss potential rule changes for the upcoming year.
No rule changes are expected to be put into place Monday, but the foundation could be laid for adjustments at the Annual League Meeting next month.
NFL.com's Kevin Patra wrote through reporting by NFL Media's Judy Battista that there could be a discussion about expanding instant replay in the aftermath of the non-call of pass interference in the NFC Championship Game. It, however, seems unlikely that there will be enough sentiment (24 of 32 Owners must vote for a rule change) to expand replay.
According to the report, the committee also is expected to look at adjusting punt plays, similar to the way they've made changes to kickoffs, and the helmet rule that was implemented in 2018 "to decide if the rule change had the desired outcome."