It is cliché now because of widespread mention, but the Minnesota Vikings will have their sixth offensive coordinator in eight seasons when the team kicks off this September.
On Monday, the Vikings made the oft-predicted promotion of Klint Kubiak official at offensive coordinator. Klint, 33, is the son of Gary Kubiak who retired at the end of the 2020 season. Father Gary propelled the Vikings to the league’s fourth-best offense via yards gained and 11th-most prolific with points scored. He also seized a Super Bowl ring as head coach in 2015 when the Denver Broncos and a red-hot defense toppled the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 by a score of 24-10.
All eyes turn to son-Kubiak as Minnesota’s offense has constantly endured a state of flux since 2016. Norv Turner mysteriously retired in 2016. He was replaced by Pat Shurmur – who led the offense to the 2017 NFC Championship. Then, Shurmur was plucked for a head coaching gig with the New York Giants. Minnesota turned to John DeFilippo, a coach that experienced an abbreviated tenure when Mike Zimmer terminated him in 2018. After that, a Klint Kubiak-like choice was made with the elevation of Kevin Stefanski. Both men were internal, homegrown brains. Stefanski left in 2020 to be the skipper for the Cleveland Browns. It worked out. Stefanski was the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 2020.
These events caused Zimmer to call on Father Gary for the job last year. Now, it is time for the Klint to get the audition.
With what Zimmer seeks to accomplish inside the Vikings offense, Klint Kubiak is the right choice for the enterprise at the moment.
Kubiak Adds Youth
The craze of late by NFL general managers and fans is to find a young, offensive-minded coach to funnel points into box scores. For head coaching circumstances, the process is implemented with frequency. The national dialogue applauds those that have worked out – Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur, and Kyle Shanahan. On the hires in this vein that do not – Adam Gase or Freddie Kitchens, for example – well, nobody cares.
Although Minnesota’s offense kept the franchise afloat in 2020, the play-calling was criticized as vanilla in spots. Other franchises utilize more motion than the Vikings, so Minnesota’s fourth-ranked yards production must be fool’s good, right? Something like that.
Klint Kubiak, at age 33, brings youth to the offense – at least with a birth certificate. A verdict on youth-infused play-calling will be rendered this autumn. For now, though, the Vikings have another Kubiak in-house. And he just so happens to be about the same age as quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The youth movement, if only for an offseason – wins.
Zimmer Gets His Continuity
When the Vikings failed to reach the postseason, Zimmer capped the 2020 season by praising the offense and lambasting his own defense – an oddity for the 64-year-old as his commentaries are generally the inverse.
Zimmer explicitly called for offensive continuity immediately after Father Gary called it quits. There is no better option anywhere on the planet to actionize this desire than son-Klint. Genetically, he is not the same human. But of all the other humans out there in the mix for offensive coordinator jobs, Klint is obviously the closest heritable brain available to that of his father.
Perhaps Vikings enthusiasts are a bit too far ahead of themselves in professing that the Kubiaks will run identical offenses. Yet the promotion of Klint ensures that the Vikings offense will be somewhat similar to the brand on display in 2020. And that’s what Zimmer craves.
Ideally, Klint will blend some youthful flair and creativity with his father’s battle-tested playbook. That’s the utopian scenario. Remain a Top 5 offensive group while modernizing and taking an accelerated amount of deep shots to wide receivers, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson.
One can dream.
Inheritance of Talented, Productive Group
Indeed, Klint must do a lot more than “not messing it up.” His last name alone will assuredly not guarantee the success his father generated in 2020.
But Klint has dynamic pieces to work with — much like Father Gary. Dalvin Cook is the second-best running back in the league behind Derrick Henry. On several Sundays, Cook is the best in the world.
He inherits a scorching-hot commodity in the 21-year-old Justin Jefferson. Captain Reliable, Adam Thielen, will return for his eighth NFL campaign. The Vikings will employ Irv Smith Jr. and probably Tyler Conklin at tight end. Smith Jr. is on the cusp of a breakout season. He can find that within Klint’s offense.
Finally, Kirk Cousins will take the reins of an offense in his seventh season as a starter. If Cousins plans to lead a team to a Super Bowl, the time is nearing. Quarterbacks do not typically “wait” until their late-30s to begin winning championships, unless their name is ‘John Elway’ (and Elway lost a couple before he started winning them).
Klint Kubiak will control an offense for a team that is in win-now mode. His youth and continuity-driven philosophy make him the correct man for the task. It just makes sense.
If he performs astutely, he will likely be given a head coach job in Minnesota or elsewhere in the next few years. Sound familiar?