The Denver Effect. How Gary Kubiak & Rick Dennison could shape the Vikings Offense

By Jason Wisniewski



After the Vikings officially hired Kevin Stefanski as Offensive Coordinator they weren’t finished with shaping up their offensive staff for 2019.  Former Super Bowl winning Head Coach and long time Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak was hired on as Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor.  He brought his son Klint Kubiak who was previously part of the Vikings staff as a WR coach in the past to be the new Quarterbacks coach as well as another long time assistant in Brian Pariani to be the new Vikings Tight Ends coach.  Now the Vikings have officially announced the hiring of long time Kubiak assistant Rick Dennison as the team’s new Offensive line coach completing the Kubiak coaching tree he had in Denver during his Super Bowl winning era.  In his coaching career Kubiak has a total of 4 Super Bowl wins (1 as QBs coach, 2 as an OC and 1 as a head Coach).  Rick Dennison was on staff with Kubiak for 3 of them.  It’s safe to say Kubiak is a winner.

How will they affect the Vikings Offensive Scheme?

Now that we’ve gone over their track records let’s take a look at what they might do schematically.  Kubiak & Dennison are known to favor the zone run blocking scheme, something that Vikings Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski also favors from his time working with Pat Shurmur.  When John DeFillipo was OC last season the Vikings got away from the Zone run blocking scheme and it wasn’t until Stefanski took over as interim OC for the final 3 games that they started to go back to it.  Expect the Vikings to go majorly towards a zone scheme in 2019 much like they did in 2017 under Shurmur.  The key O-lineman the Vikings have on their roster (Elflein, O’Neill, Reiff, Collins) are built for this type of scheme and it is this scheme that Kubiak used in Denver when he won all those Super Bowls.  It produced consistent top 10 & top 5 rushing attacks and made 1,000 yard rushers out of Terrell Davis, CJ Anderson, Tatum Bell, Mike Anderson and Rueben Droughns and also produced career years for players like Ronnie Hillman.  All of these players were unheralded  Running Backs coming out of college that Kubiak’s system turned into stars.

How will they affect the Vikings plans in the Draft & Free Agency? 

It’s fair to say that Kubiak & Dennison will have a major say in the Vikings off season plans in terms of which players they want to re-sign and the type of players they are looking for in the Draft & Free Agency.  Rick Spielman has been influenced over the years by Mike Zimmer with defensive picks and listening to the defensive guru has produced great results for that side of the ball.  Now with the defense mostly set the Offense needs the attention, particularly the Offensive Line which has been a weak spot for the Vikings for about a decade save for 2017.  The Vikings want to get it right and that is likely why Kubiak & Dennison are both here now.  Let’s look at some of the possible O-line moves the may want to make in the off season.


C/G Nick Easton

If Easton is healthy following his neck surgery it is likely that the new staff will want him back because Easton fits the Zone Blocking Scheme to a tee and was a pretty effective starter at LG in 2017.  He also has the position flexibility to play center so having a guy who can play any of the 3 interior spots is quite valuable.  Considering he’s landed on IR each of the last 2 seasons his price should be very low to re-sign him.  I think this gets done if he’s cleared of the neck injury.

Free Agency: 

C Matt Paradis

Paradis played under both Kubiak & Dennison in Denver and is a UFA heading into the 2019 off season. He’s consistently been one of PFF’s highest graded centers each of the past several years.  He is however coming off of a fibula injury although it doesn’t appear to be too bad where it would affect him long term.  With a coaching change in Denver and possible scheme changes there as well it is likely Paradis leaves Denver.  The Vikings would be an attractive landing spot for Paradis since he has ties to Kubiak & Dennison and is a scheme fit.  With GM Rick Spielman known for preferring to attack needs in Free Agency and then use the draft to take the best player available regardless of position I could see Paradis being the Vikings #1 Free Agent target and ultimately signing him.  This would move Pat Elflein to Guard where he could compete with Nick Easton for a starting spot.  Elflein played Guard at Ohio state so this type of move would not be unnatural and could wind up working out just fine.

The Draft:

If the Vikings were to re-sign Easton & add Paradis in Free Agency they still would probably not be done adding O-lineman to the roster.  I could easily see the Vikings adding another O-lineman, be it a Tackle or an Interior O-lineman within the first 3 rounds of the draft.  Here’s a short list of players to watch in the draft for the Vikings that could fit what the Vikings want to do schematically:

Dalton Risner (Can play Tackle or Inside) Rd 1-2 projection

Jawaan Taylor (Can play Tackle or Inside) Rd 1 projection

Jonah Williams (Can play Tackle or Inside) Rd 1 projection

Cody Ford (Can play Tackle or Inside) Rd 1 projection

Greg Little (Tackle) Rd 1 projection

Andre Dillard (Tackle) Rd 1-2 projection

Yodney Cajuste (Tackle) Rd 2 projection

David Edwards (Tackle) Rd 2-3 projection

Chris Lindstrom (Guard) Rd 2-3 projection

Connor McGovern (Guard/Center) Rd 2-3 projection

Garret Bradbury (Guard/Center) Rd 2-3 projection

Michael Deiter (Guard/Center) Rd 2-3 projection

Ben Benzschawel (Guard) Rd 2-3 projection

The Vikings will of course address other positions in the Draft & Free Agency but again these are definitely players to keep an eye on as they can fit into the Vikings offensive scheme.

The Kirk Cousins connection

Although Gary Kubiak never directly coached Kirk Cousins his mentor Mike Shanahan & Mike’s son Kyle Shanahan did in Washington.  Kubiak runs the same offense as the Shanahans and Kirk Cousins is familiar with it from his time in Washington.  Cousins is known to excel mostly when he is under center vs from the shot gun.  The Kubiak scheme is full of bootlegs, rolling out and play action all of which suit Cousins’ strengths.  The Kubiak system has also produced many top 10 passing attacks since the running game is always established and that opens things up for the play action passing game.  Kubiak has gotten the best out of lesser QBs like Matt Schaub & Brock Osweiller and won with them.  Neither of those players posses anywhere near the talent as a QB that Kirk Cousins has.


Vikings fans should be excited about these coaching moves.  These are proven coaches with a track record of success and a track record of Super Bowl championships.  They could very well be part of the staff that gives the Minnesota Vikings their very first Super Bowl title.  It’s going to take Rick Spielman nailing the off season but an improved coaching staff and most of the core pieces on offense & defense returning give the Vikings a pretty good shot in 2019.

Special Thanks to the Staff here at PurplePTSD

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