What We Learned: Gary Kubiak Speaks From The 2016 Annual NFL Owners Meetings

MHH Publisher Chad Jensen recaps what we learned from Gary Kubiak's remarks at the annual NFL Owners meetings.

There's been a lot of turnover since last we heard from Gary Kubiak at the NFL Scouting Combine. Peyton Manning has retired. Brock Osweiler has defected to Houston

Malik Jackson signed a $90 million deal with Jacksonville, while Danny Trevathan, Ryan Harris and David Bruton all found new NFL homes in different cities. 

The Denver Broncos quarterback situation is obviously the biggest question in everyone's mind as GMs and head coaches meet at the annual Owners Meetings in Boca Raton, FL. 

Kubiak took time at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday to first talk about Mark SanchezTrevor Siemian and what the future might hold at the quarterback position. 

“Right now we have Mark and Trevor, so we know that. Obviously we’ve got work to do and we’re going to create competition.  John [Elway] and I will continue to work on that and do it at our pace until we feel like we’ve got the right guy.


"One of the things we feel really good about is getting Mark," Kubiak continued. "Mark has 60 starts in this league. He started two AFC Championship Games if I’m right. We feel really good about him—how he fits and what we do. He’s got some background in our offense and our terminology. Trevor is a young player as you guys well know. We felt like we were lucky to get him late in the draft last year. He made a lot of progress. Some guys make big jumps from Year One to Year Two, so obviously he’s going to get a lot of repetitions and we’ll see how far he goes. It’s another challenge and we look forward to getting started in April."

Siemian will be given a long look, with plenty of reps. He is a homegrown guy, after all, even though he's only entering his second year. As for what we can expect moving forward, the key word in Kubiak's response is "patience". 

“It’s a fluid situation," Kubiak said. "John and I talk about it every day. I can’t speak for John but I know through our conversations that we’ve tried to have patience here, make sure we do this the right way and make sure we feel good about who we bring in from a competitive standpoint. We’ll continue to [show] patience there and make sure we get the right guy.”

One thing is clear, however. Whether it's a veteran, or a draft pick, the Broncos will add to their QB stable. You can't ride into training camp, or even OTAs with just two signal-callers. 

"Whoever we bring in, it’s about competition," Kubiak said. "We’re not going to give anybody a job. We’ve got a good football team. Whoever comes in and plays that position for us is going to have to earn it. Whoever we’ve got in there, [if] they are busting their tail and proving every day they can be the guy for our football team, I think our players will rally around it just like they did around Brock [Osweiler] last year when Brock played the seven games he played in. It’s another challenge to work through.

"Now it’s time for us to find the next Brock Osweiler, the next young player for our football team to come in and compete with Mark and whoever we bring in. That’s what we plan on doing.”

Denver did their homework on Sanchez. Likely, one of the prevailing factors behind the Broncos trading for Sanchez was not only their confidence that he'd fit into their system, but the fact that he's knowledgeable about their verbiage from his time in college and in New York. Kubiak thinks Sanchez will be a quick study. 


“I think it will be quick," Kubiak said. "At S.C. (USC), his verbiage was our verbiage [with] the guys he came up under. He’s been in the West Coast system or the West Coast verbiage for periods of his career. Even in New York when he was there with [Bills Head Coach] Rex [Ryan], they had some of our verbiage, the way we talk. I think we’re going to make up ground really, really quick.”

Sanchez will enter the offseason program atop Denver's quarterback depth chart. Even so, he'll have a hungry Siemian nipping at his heels. He'll have to not only stave off a competitor, but instill confidence in the coaches. The biggest factor to his success could be consistency. 

“He’s got to come in and compete and do the things that he’s capable of doing, and do them consistently," Kubiak said. "I think that’s the big thing...I think he is going to have to make us comfortable. He is going to have to come in and do his job. Mark hasn’t asked for anything. He just wants an opportunity to compete. That’s what he said from Day One and we can give him a tremendous opportunity to do that right now.”

The Broncos proved that you can win a Super Bowl, ugly as it may be, without top-level offensive line play. Nevertheless, they've already taken steps to bolster the unit and at this point, Kubiak feels confident in his group of guys. 

The additions of tackles Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson also give the Broncos choices along the O-line. Positional versatility will be key moving forward. 

"The good news is we went from being very thin to having some depth on that phase of our football team," Kubiak said. "It’s going to be very competitive and it probably wasn’t last year just by nature of injury and some of the things that happened. We felt like that was the No. 1 area where we needed to improve and John has given us a chance to do that.”


Okung is coming off of shoulder surgery, which has triggered questions regarding his timetable for actual football availability. Kubaik clarified that picture. 

“All indications are, through my conversations, he should be ready sometime in May. Whether he’s part of anything of a physical nature throughout the offseason, I think that’s the question. He will be a part of the offseason and the teaching and everything. We’ll wait and see how much OTA stuff he participates in."

Since the Texans released him, Arian Foster's name has been bandied about in Denver as a possible free agent target. His All-Pro campaigns came under Kubiak's coaching, but he's coming off of back-to-back seasons that ended with significant injury. 

"I know how driven he [Foster] is to come back and play," Kubiak said. "We’re going to look at everybody who is out there. There is no doubt about that. It will be interesting to see where he’s at. It’s my understanding that he’s not quite ready yet. He’s still got some time left, so we’ll see. We’ll look at everybody.”

With C.J. Anderson's return to the fold, the Broncos have three solid options at running back — including Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs, plus a couple of guys signed to futures contracts who'll compete in camp. There are some strong options in the upcoming NFL Draft, as well. 

“I know there are some real good ones at the top," Kubiak said. "I think just looking at the draft briefly, offensive line looks like a really strong [position this] year. I think that gives you a chance to continue to get better. Other than that, I think the draft looks deep to me just dealing with John and [Director of Player Personnel] Matt [Russell] for the last month-and-a-half. It looks like maybe a deeper draft than it is a higher-ended draft. I think there will be a lot of good football players there on Day Two and Day Three.”


As for Anderson himself, Kubiak sees an immense talent who has barely scratched the surface of his potential. 

"C.J. played his best football at the end of the year," Kubiak said. "I think C.J. hasn’t even reached the heights he can reach. I think C.J. is really just getting started. Being in our system again, if C.J. can stay healthy and stay on the field for 16 weeks, I think he can be one of the top backs in the league—and I think he believes that. I think C.J. is a good, young player that has another level to reach and we’re going to do everything we can to get him there.”

Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller has shouldered the brunt of some criticism for his offseason activities, including the decision to appear on Dancing With The Stars. The Broncos franchise tagged him but they've yet to agree to a long-term contract, which calls into question whether Miller will even appear at OTAs and camp, at least up until the July 15th deadline. Kubiak isn't worried about it. 

“I’m a little different there," Kubiak said. "I think they deserve it. They worked their tail off throughout the course of the season. Our season was very long. Anytime you go that far it obviously gets lengthy. You want guys to enjoy what they did and what took place. I’m proud of Von. I’ve said this to you all many times: I know where Von has come from, where he’s been and where he’s been through. We know what type of player he is but he’s become a leader on our team. I think he does a really good job with young players. We all know Von likes to have fun but Von knows when it’s time to go to work, too. I’m proud of him, I hope he’s having a good time out there. We look forward to seeing him.”

But will Miller participate in the offseason program, without a long-term deal in place? 

“I sure hope so," Kubiak said.

After the highs of winning a third World Championship, the Broncos and the fans have been brought low with all the turnover at the player level. That's one of the reasons the Broncos worked so hard to make sure they could bring DeMarcus Ware back on a deal that was fair to him and the team. 


“That was very big," Kubiak said. "First off, he played very well. I think somebody told me percentage-wise, he only played 40 percent of the time when you went back and looked at the snaps. DeMarcus, healthy, I think is a tremendous complement to Von and had a lot to do with Von’s success. You all know his influence in our locker room and the job he does. That was a big part of it but it still gets down to how well he plays.”

The Broncos signed tight end Virgil Green to a three-year extension last spring, only to have him serve as a backup to Owen Daniels. Now that the Broncos have released Daniels, Kubiak reminded fans about the kid they drafted in the third round last year, Jeff Heuerman, who spent his rookie season on I.R. Kubiak has high expectations for Green and Heuerman. 

“We’re counting on him [Heuerman] big time," Kubiak said. "You look at us releasing ‘O.D.’—and you never know what can happen there down the road—but when Jeff came in he was very impressive. We feel like Jeff can be a total tight end. He’s not [just] a receiver. We think he has the ability to do both (catch and block). He’s a very confident young man and he comes from a winning program (Ohio State). We are counting on him a great deal [along] with Virgil. It’s a big offseason for him and he’s worked really hard. He’s really been ready to go probably [since] a few months ago.”

One of the biggest concerns for the Broncos on the defensive side of the ball is safety depth. Last year, T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart both missed starts due to injury. David Bruton had to step up bigtime, but he's gone. Josh Bush stepped up as well, but he's currently an unrestricted free agent. 

The Broncos recognize their vulnerability at the safety position depth-wise, but they know the race is far from over. 

“We’ve got two good starters, two guys that played well for us," Kubiak said. "They both got beat up so we went five-deep at safety [last] year. Obviously it’s a place that we’re very thin if you’re looking at our roster right now.”

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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