Gary Kubiak Is The Right Man For The Job In Denver

With back-to-back losses and an offense that's been inept all season long, some fans are wondering if Gary Kubiak is still the right man to lead the Broncos.

Offensive line woes and conservative play-calling has any in Broncos Country wondering whether Gary Kubiak is the right man to lead this team into next season. While some might deem the notion laughable, the Denver Broncos still operate in a league that falls prey to the “what have you done for me lately” mantra.

It's a production-based business. 

Losing sight of last year’s Super Bowl Championship, many have hit the panic button, after seeing the Denver offense disappear in the two most recent defeats to Tennessee and New England. For most teams, sitting at 8-6 and still in the playoff hunt heading into Week 16 would be commendable, especially considering the personnel turnover the Broncos dealt with this year. The Denver Broncos aren't most franchises, however, and the natives are getting restless. With gray clouds circling overhead, has Kubiak lost his magic touch over the course of just one season?

Absolutely not.

Kubiak is under a firestorm of criticism this week after another poor offensive showing in Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots. The three-and-outs, the struggles in the redzone, and the inability to show consistency in the game-plan from series to series are piling one massive problem at the head coach’s feet.

You need to score more points than your opponent to win the game, that much is simple. It’s also easy to imagine that with just one more score in losses to Kansas City and Tennessee, the Broncos would be in a much better place in the playoff picture than they are right now.

While stats don’t always tell the whole story, they can reveal much. At this point in the year, Denver has a 3,000-yard passer in Trevor Siemian, two 1,000-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and have over 1,000 yards between its top three rushers.

Piece all those things together and it really shouldn’t spell out incompetency on the offensive side of the ball.

Since Kubiak’s arrival in Denver, he has had to rebuild an offensive line and adapt his offensive philosophies twice to help compensate for his quarterback, not exactly a recipe for building continuity in a scheme. It’s also lazy analysis to say “Kubiak’s offense” when we haven't seen many of the landmark plays attributed to the West Coast offense that Kubiak prefers.

The personnel groupings we were used to seeing under the care of former offensive coordinators Adam Gase and Mike McCoy were and are different than what Kubiak employs. The Broncos organization is still dealing with the personnel fallout of trying to get the right pieces onto the field to help Kubiak carry out the vision of what he would like his offense to look like. Fans want results now, there is no way around that. Swings and misses in free agency, like the signing of offensive tackles Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson, haven’t done Kubiak any favors. But, he and his staff can only coach up the players the front office puts at their disposal.

The media continuously scrutinizes Siemian's play. The extreme, bi-polar criticism — and praise — that's been heaped on Kubiak's quarterback has been overkill. 

Objectively, Siemian is a project whose skill-set best translates to a very good backup in the league. That isn’t a slight to Siemian in the least.

The job Kubiak has done coaching Siemian, a 2015 seventh round pick, into a starting quarterback with a 7-5 record has been nothing short of excellent. Despite his flaws, Siemian has exceed expectations in his first year as the starter. 

With another season to get better players who fit his system, Kubiak should also be able to get more out of promising youngsters like tight end A.J. Derby and running back Devontae Booker

Kubiak is doing what he can with the cards he was dealt. Not too far removed from making Joe Flacco a top-10 quarterback, Denver's head coach just needs a few more pieces and time to make the struggles of this year nothing but a bump in the road in the rear-view mirror.

The game has passed him up...

For all of the praise Kubiak has received as quarterback whisperer through his coaching career, he has done little to develop rookie Paxton Lynch, and he could not salvage the career of Mark Sanchez. Turning to Siemian to the start of the year sealed the fate of Denver's offense. 

Stubborn to a fault, Kubiak has tried in vain to form some cohesion between the run and the pass. But it just hasn’t worked for going on two seasons. What has made matters worse this year is not having Peyton Manning to audible out of bad plays at the line of scrimmage and keep guys in line in the locker room.

It’s admirable that Kubiak is so loyal to his players and coaches, but at what price? As it stands right now, Kubiak is the main play-caller and has not one, not two, but three other coaches helping to relay plays in to Siemian. It’s Office Space all over again — having seven bosses to report to.

Even more damning, why does Quarterbacks Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Greg Knapp have more authority over sending in plays than Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison? Why even have an OC who seemingly doesn’t have a function in the Denver brain trust?

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In a word, its loyalty. Wherever Kubiak goes, so does Dennison. Being steadfast and sticking with his guy is admirable, but Kubiak's relationships with his assistants have left the offense in a state of disarray and impotency. And that loyalty has stretched to the players, as well. 

Examples include leaving Michael Schofield on an island with Khalil Mack in a 2015 loss to Oakland, and more recently going back to the shaky hands of Jordan Norwood over Kalif Raymond at punt returner in Week 15. Too often, Kubiak has left the door open for second-guessing than most people are comfortable with.

Short of firing him, which isn’t going to happen, folks, John Elway needs to step in and take control. Even if the play-calling is done by Knapp or some other coach, it has to be just one coach. We can all see that input from four separate people is clearly not working.

Too many cooks ruin the broth. 

Championship teams are special. In moments last season — from the Week 2 win in Kansas City to the overtime heroics of C.J. Anderson in Week 12 — Denver proved how special they were.

It’s not an indictment to say that Denver has been just good this year. Already in a few games this season, Denver has been one play away from coming out as winners instead of bad-luck losers. The margin of error has been small and fans must accept that for better or for worse.  

Denver will most likely need something special to get wins in Kanas City on Sunday and at home against Oakland to close out the year. But, if any team has the mettle to be special for one more run, it’s the Broncos. 

Although he inherited a talented and deep roster, there's no question Gary Kubiak has also faced some tremendous obstacles in his short time as the head coach.

As for leading the Broncos into the future, Kubiak has already proven that he's the man for the job. But it's going to take time to reload the roster and retool the offensive line. 

Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

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