This move makes sense for numerous reasons.
Kubiak first became an NFL offensive coordinator in 1995 for the Denver Broncos, a role he retained until 2005. He then ran the offense of the Houston Texans as head coach from 2006-2013 before taking over his current role in Baltimore this season.
Here are the NFL rankings of Kubiak-led offenses from 1995-2014:
For 20 years, Kubiak’s offenses have averaged a Top-10 rank or better in total offense, rushing offense and points scored, while his passing offenses have averaged 11th best in the NFL.
That is an extremely impressive track record of sustained success at every level of the offense for two decades.
“Let’s face the facts – the weather here, I’m experiencing it right now, it can be brutal,” new Bears GM Ryan Pace said this week. “To win in that environment you got to be able to run the ball.”
Kubiak’s rushing offenses have finished in the Top 10 in 13 of 20 years, while he’s finished Top 10 in scoring in 14 of 20 seasons. In total offense, he’s accrued 13 years at 10th or better, and has finished worse than 14th just twice.
Under Kubiak this year, the Ravens improved in every offensive category compared to 2013: total offense, 29th to 12th; rushing yards, 30th to 8th; passing yards, 18th to 13th; and points scored, 25th to 8th.
He is one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL, one with an incomparable track record of success the past 20 years. With all of the weapons the Bears possess on offense, there’s no reason Kubiak can’t quickly turn Chicago’s offense into a Top 10 unit, as he’s done throughout his career.
The Phillips Factor
Kubiak had his best years in Houston after he hired Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator in 2011.
The Texans made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons after Phillips came on board, the only years in which Kubiak brought Houston to the postseason.
Under Phillips, the Texans’ defense in 2011 ranked 2nd overall, 4th in points allowed, 4th against the run and 3rd against the pass. In 2012, Houston ranked 7th overall, 9th in points allowed, 7th against the run and 16th in passing defense.
Most assume that if Kubiak is hired as a head coach, he’ll bring Phillips with him as his defensive coordinator.
“You’ve got to be able to play tough defense,” Pace said. “When you think about the Chicago Bears identity over the years, it’s tough, physical defense, and we’re going to get back to that.”
Phillips did not coach last year and recently interviewed for the Washington Redskins defensive coordinator position.
Phillips and Kubiak know each other, work well together and have a track record of success. There will be no surprises between the two, as there were with Marc Trestman and Mel Tucker, and the duo will be able to hit the ground running.
The Bears have already interviewed three head-coach candidates: Seahawks DC Dan Quinn, Cardinals DC Todd Bowles and Broncos OC Adam Gase, none of whom have any previous experience as a head coach. In fact, between the three of them, they have just 7 years combined experience as NFL coordinators.
Conversely, Kubiak once won a playoff game with T.J. Yates under center.
Kubiak’s experience is especially desirable to the Bears, who just hired the youngest general manager in the NFL, 37-year-old Ryan Pace. With Kubiak, Pace would have a head coach who has been in the NFL for more than two decades and has won three Super Bowls.
With the rest of the candidates, Pace would work in tandem with a head coach who would be also be learning on the fly. That’s not an ideal scenario.
And if Kubiak brings Phillips with him, Pace would have two coaches with 58 years of NFL coaching experience combined. That will be invaluable for Pace, who has never before been in charge of an NFL roster.
“I'm looking for the best head coach that has the traits we're looking for,” Pace said. “That's confidence, charisma, discipline and leadership. The best man for the job.”
Of all the candidates on Chicago’s short list, Kubiak by far best embodies every one of those traits, making him the best man to lead the Bears into the future.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.