Things have seemed pretty bleak around Vikings-land since the team fell to the 49ers the Saturday before last. With the team seemingly being outplayed and outclassed by a Niners team that many thought was a year ahead of schedule (and thus just opening their championship window), and a salary cap situation that could best be explained by this GIF.
… It’s not hard to see why people are kinda down on the purple and gold right now.
Well, fear not purple faithful, as according to the pretty consistently right Ian Rapoport, the Vikings will be hiring Gary Kubiak as their offensive coordinator in 2020.
What does that mean?
Well, as one-time purplePTSD.com writer Paul Bellesen notes in his response to Rapoport on Twitter:
Beyond that, the Vikings have had next to zero continuity at on their offense during the Zimmer regime. They’ve gone through multiple offensive coordinators (from Norv Turner, to Pat Shurmur, and John DeFilippo, and Kevin Stefanski) and even more quarterbacks (Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, Shaun Hill, Case Keenum, Bradford again, and now Kirk Cousins). It’s because of that, at least partially, that Zimmer made it clear that continuity was the most important aspect of what he was looking for from his new offensive coordinator after Kevin Stefanski was hired as the head coach in Cleveland.
After Zimmer made it clear it became clear to those that cover the Vikings for a living that Kubiak would be the next offensive coordinator for this Vikings team, the only question was which Kubiak it’d be. When Gary Kubiak joined the coaches room in Eagan last off-season, he brought along his team of coaches like offensive line coach Rick Dennison, and his son Klint Kubiak, who served as the quarterback’s coach for the Vikings in 2019-20.
While it may seem obvious for the elder Kubiak to take over the position next season, he recently spoke with the media about his love for his new advisory role with the Vikings and the regular schedule it provided. That’s something that’s important for the elder Kubiak, as he retired from being a head coach a few seasons ago mostly due to health concerns. However he must feel comfortable enough with the help his team, and son will bring next season to take over the position without risking his own health in the process.
That’s great news for the Vikings as it was clear in 2019 that this Vikings offense could play about as well as any other offensive in the NFL. In the 10 games that the Vikings won in the regular season, they scored over 30 points on average. In the games that they lost? They scored just over 17, and in most instances, there was a stark difference in the game plan(s) between those winning games and those that they lost, namely in how they utilized their quarterback in Kirk Cousins.
Speaking of Cousins, who is currently engaged in extension talks with the Vikings, it is clear that when he’s used a certain way that he’s able to statistically play at an elite level. Now, in the NFL you’re going to need a quarterback that is capable of throwing out of the pocket at some point, so I’m not advocating for running play-action bootlegs or rollouts 100% of the time, but it often felt that if opposing teams’ defenses found a way to keep Cousins in the pocket, that the Stefanski had no answer for that.
After Vikings superstar receiver Adam Thielen went down for multiple games with a hammy, it was Kubiak’s patented heavy personnel packages that allowed the Vikings offense to not only continue to put up points, but actually improve. It was when they got away from that and went the typical 11 personnel, that they floundered.
That having been said, you’re going to need to also run 11 personnel and somehow stop powerful defensive fronts, and if there’s anyone that would have an answer for that it’s Kubiak, who is one of the most knowledgable and successful coaches (especially as a coordinator) in NFL history.
Kubiak has been a part, in one way or another, of SEVEN Super Bowl titles and really all we need from him is for him to get to number eight. With his familiarity with what worked and better yet what didn’t in 2019, it seems like if anyone is able to get this Vikings team over that hump it’d have to be Kubiak.
He’s coached a team that, on paper, was supposed to win a Super Bowl. A team that was just a “Quarterback away from winning a Super Bowl” thanks to its great defense. That team was the Denver Broncos and while they lost their first shot at their third Super Bowl back in Super Bowl XLVIII, they bounced back two seasons later and won Super Bowl… Carry the IVII… Super Bowl L.
We’ve also seen a team that primarily runs a similar zone blocking scheme not only handle the same Packers front that made the Vikings offensive line/left tackle look like cardboard cut outs, but dominate them so thoroughly in the trenches that their quarterback only threw EIGHT times in the entire game (while their pedestrian journeyman of a running back dominated the game to the tune of over 200 yards).
That team is the Niners, and their head coach is Kyle Shanahan whose dad is known as The Godfather of zone blocking along with… You guessed it, Frank Stallone.
Okay, that’s a very obscure reference to Norm MacDonald’s time at SNL.
That person actually was Gary Kubiak.
So, continuity? Check. Has had success at every level? Check. Is arguably responsible for a lot of the positives we saw in 2019? Check. What else is there? Oh yeah.
Finally, if there’s anyone that might be able to convince Rick Spielman that they need to draft multiple linemen early in April’s draft, it’d be Kubiak. With the question marks on defense, many people fear that Zimmer might yet again overlook the offense for either the cornerback or defensive line position in the first three rounds.
While those concerns are valid, it’s clear that this offensive line was yet again the reason that the Vikings didn’t make it to the promised land and after being absolutely dismantled by dominant fronts like the Niners and Packers, and having limited cap space, it’s clear that the Vikes need to draft a left tackle in April (especially considering how overpriced LTs are in free agency).
If nothing else, though, this move helped many of us step back from the ledge that we’ve been at for the last couple weeks. Right now, that’s enough to get me at least less apoplectic about 2020 (and hopefully beyond).