Minnesota Vikings fans who have longed for continuity on the offensive side of the football can at least take solace in one thing this offseason: They’ll have an offensive coordinator with the same last name for two years in a row.
Reports from the NFL Network indicate that Klint Kubiak has been tabbed to replace his father Gary as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, pending the team’s announcement. He’s coordinator No. 6 in six seasons since Norv Turner abruptly retired in the middle of the 2016 season and ostensibly put a hex on the position that prevents his successors from staying longer than a year.
Thanks to firing (John DeFilippo), retiring (Turner, Gary Kubiak), and aspiring (Pat Shurmur, Kevin Stefanski), the Vikings’ revolving door at coordinator has been in constant motion. Unfortunately for the Vikings, it’s tough to believe that 33-year-old Klint Kubiak is willing to grow old in his first role as a play-caller. The NFL’s perpetual coaching turnover will demand that spots be filled next offseason, and Minnesota should prepare itself for Kubiak to be a candidate.
The last two offensive coordinators to get the Vikings to the playoffs were poached by other teams to fill head-coaching roles, including Stefanski, whose one year alongside Gary Kubiak (plus three games as interim the year prior) was enough to get him the main job with the Cleveland Browns at age 37, where he made the playoffs in Year 1. Franchises are growing tired of retreads and are getting increasingly bolder about finding untapped coaching talent like Stefanski, or Detroit’s new head coach Dan Campbell, or Cincinnati’s mid-30s head coach Zac Taylor. That makes Klint Kubiak an instant candidate with any measure of success in his first season.
And it could very easily be a successful season. Kubiak will likely get every important piece back on offense, sans tight end Kyle Rudolph, who may be easily replaced by an Irv Smith Jr./Tyler Conklin combo. He’ll have the benefit of running a system that most of the players have executed for two seasons. And who’s kidding, he’ll probably have his dad on speed dial during the week to lend a hand.
Kubiak has worked with quarterbacks most of his professional career. His last name is synonymous with one of the league’s most established schemes. He has connections through his father to a Rolodex of potential staffers, including those currently with the Vikings like Rick Dennison and Brian Pariani. That resumé already looks good to teams wanting a young, offensive-minded coach, and Kubiak hasn’t even called a game yet.
Naturally, Kubiak will need to have success in the win column to get head coaching calls. He’ll also have to prove he has the right demeanor for the job and show he can control the message at a weekly press conference. And of course, he’ll need to sync with Mike Zimmer, who proved in 2018 he has strong opinions about how the offense should be run.
But the path appears smoothly paved for Kubiak. Vikings fans shouldn’t get too attached, especially if the team gets on a roll to start 2021.
After seven great years with Zone Coverage, I’ll be leaving to pursue another opportunity covering the Vikings starting Feb. 15. I may reappear in this space as a freelance contributor down the road, but just wanted to take a moment to thank the readers for following along over the years. I was part of the very first meetings in 2014 that led to the conception of Zone Coverage as a sidebar on the Sports Radio 105 The Ticket website. I’ve been here for every iteration of the company and have had the pleasure of working with some awesome people. Thanks to boss man Tom Schreier for the years of employment. I’m forever grateful.