Broncos Update Insider - 12/13

The Denver Broncos will see some familiar faces when they face the Houston Texans on Thursday night, especially head coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak was Denver's backup quarterback from 1983-91 and the team's offensive coordinator for 11 seasons.

This week's game between the Broncos and Texans could pass for an intrasquad scrimmage.

When Gary Kubiak took over as Texans head coach, he took plenty of the Broncos' philosophy with him, and many people as well. Kubiak was Denver's backup quarterback from 1983-91 and the team's offensive coordinator for 11 seasons. He played in Denver's last Super Bowl loss, and helped devise the game plan for Denver's two Super Bowl wins. Kubiak coaches against the Broncos and his former boss, Mike Shanahan, on Thursday at Houston.

Kubiak said he didn't change too much when he went from Denver to Houston.

"That's the way I was brought up, and it's obvious it's successful," Kubiak said. "We tried to instill the same type of things here, as far as practice habits and meeting habits. The way we go about our business is probably pretty darn identical."

Kubiak left on good terms after the 2005 season. Shanahan stumped for Kubiak when the Texans job was open. Kubiak was instrumental in the Broncos' offensive success and Shanahan was happy to see him get an opportunity to run an organization.

The Texans were quick to latch onto Kubiak. The Broncos were on a playoff run in January of 2006 that would end after the AFC Championship Game, and not long after the game Houston made the hire official.

Shanahan said he has been a Texans fan since.

"I'm always rooting for Houston because of my relationship with Gary, when we're not playing them," Shanahan said.

Kubiak took a lot with him, including the playbook. The Texans and Broncos run very similar offenses. Shanahan said he didn't bother telling Kubiak to leave any of the playbook behind.

"If I would have tried to limit it, he's smart enough to already have it in his house anyhow," Shanahan joked.

Kubiak also took Rick Smith to be his general manager, Troy Calhoun to be his offensive coordinator (Calhoun has since moved onto be Air Force's head coach) and signed some former Broncos players. Houston has five former Broncos players on its roster.

Shanahan and Kubiak still talk often. Kubiak said when an issue arises, he calls Shanahan for advice. Kubiak said he had a lot of duties as a coordinator and that helped him when he became a head coach, but he wasn't prepared for all of the responsibilities of being in charge. Shanahan knew the drill well.

"As a head coach, you're wearing a lot of different hats, for offense, defense, special teams," Shanahan said. "You're talking about free agency, the draft, organizational schedules. There's a few more things you've got to do."

Kubiak is 12-17 as a head coach. He already has as many losing seasons as Texans head coach as he did in 11 seasons as Broncos offensive coordinator, with the possibility of having a second losing season this year. Still, Kubiak sounded like he was pleased to be trying to build the Texans into a winner.

"It's everything the boss told me it would be, and then some," Kubiak said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. He had three sacks against Kansas City. Dumervil has become a major factor on the Broncos defense as a starter who plays most downs, something many wondered if he could do in the NFL because of his size. As for his 11 sacks this season, Dumervil has said that he shares the credit for his sacks with his teammates.

"It's an overall effort," Dumervil said. "Everybody has their finger in the pie."

--The Broncos have usually scaled back their offensive game plan some when they've played on Thursdays in past years, but it is still not simple. This week against the Texans and coach Gary Kubiak, who knows the Broncos scheme well, and the Broncos have some wrinkles that the team needs to learn in a hurry.

"It's tough," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "It's a long day. We are still going to have a complex game plan. The guys just have to be mentally sharp more than anything."

--Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley signed a three-year extension last week. He has outperformed the Broncos' expectations coming off a major Achilles' injury with the Colts last year. He had signed a one-year deal in the offseason.

"This guy's a winner," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "You can see it from day one. He loves to play the game and he loves to compete."

BY THE NUMBERS: 16 -- Members of the Texans coaching staff, roster and front office who used to be with the Broncos. QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'll probably talk to him the night before the game, which him some bad luck, and go on." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on his son Kyle, who is the quarterbacks coach of the Houston Texans

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos are still waiting for Travis Henry to be able to handle a full load. He still isn't back to full strength or optimal shape after missing three games with a knee injury. When Henry is ready, the Broncos will have a tough choice because Selvin Young has played so well. Shanahan has supported Henry, but it's clear the team also loves Young. Young should continue to be the Broncos' main tailback this season.

PLAYER NOTES

--TE Tony Scheffler hasn't had any huge games lately, but he is always an option for the Broncos. He is a big part of the offense and could have another big game any week.

--C Chris Myers has done a good job replacing veteran Tom Nalen. Even if Nalen returns next year, Myers should have some role on the offensive line.

--DT Alvin McKinley has had a solid year as a starting tackle. The Broncos don't have a lot of young depth at tackle so McKinley could stay in the mix next year as well.

--LB Jordan Beck has been a revelation on special teams for the Broncos. Signed in midseason, Beck has been one of the team's better players covering kicks.

--OT Erik Pears has handled the transition from left tackle to right tackle this season. He had a bumpy training camp, but then settled in nicely. He is big and athletic, and fits Denver's offense well.



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