The Minnesota Vikings made Gary Kubiak’s decision to retire final on Thursday with the authorship of a social media post. The team wished Kubiak well on the prospect of his retirement – the second time the 59-year-old has done so in the last half-decade.
For Kubiak and the Vikings, his tenure as offensive bossman was bittersweet. The Vikings had a groovy offense that ranked Top 12 in the industry via nearly all offensive metrics (and higher than 12th in many). Justin Jefferson contended for an Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy. Kirk Cousins orchestrated the best or second-best season of his career, depending on your viewpoint. Dalvin Cook tallied the second-most yards from scrimmage in team history. Adam Thielen caught a career-high for touchdown receptions.
But the defense was abysmal.
Minnesota finished the pandemic campaign near the bottom of the league in most defensive statistical parameters. Onlookers learned that even the reputable Mike Zimmer cannot lead reservist players to defensive stardom. Some backup personnel can thrive in spots within Zimmer’s scheme, but skimping at multiple positions because of injuries to starters did not proliferate success.
The Vikings finished at third place in the NFC North, owners of a 7-9 record. Through seven weeks, the team was 1-5 but rallied to a 6-4 finish to avoid the basement of the NFL with teams like the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kubiak, by most accounts, performed admirably. He’s done, though. Now what? Who will become the Vikings offensive coordinator?
Here is the common-sense case for his son, Klint Kubiak.
Unlocked Cousins’ Two Best Years
Whether one is pro-Kirk Cousins or anti-Kirk Cousins, the output from the 32-year-old is as consistent as sunrise. Annually, Cousins produces 3,600-4,200 passing yards and 25-35 touchdowns passes. It is a recurring circumstance. Objective folks assert that this is commendable. His level of performance is statistically predictable – in a good way.
At this stage of his career with the Vikings, his numbers are improving – an oddity for a man exiting his “true prime” years. In 2019, Cousins boasted a career-high passer rating of 107.4. Most recently in 2020, he regressed a smidgen to 105.0. What’s the denominator? It is not Kevin Stefanski or Gary Kubiak. Those men traded offensive coordinator responsibilities.
It is Klint Kubiak – the frontrunner for the Vikings offensive coordinator gig. Indeed, Cousins delivered his two best seasons in 2019 and 2020. During 2020, he tossed puzzling early-season interceptions while the team was bumbling to its 1-5 start. Had those not transpired, 2020 would have been Cousins’ best season. He posted a career-high of 35 touchdown passes. That mark ranks second all-time in Vikings history.
Klint Kubiak has squeezed the best out of Cousins, if it is, in fact, fair to attribute kudos to a quarterbacks coach for the play of the signal-caller. It would be odd if there was no correlation.
Presumed Similarity to Father
Gary and Klint share a last name per the patriarchal tradition involved in matrimony. Mike Zimmer emphatically stated that he adored the 2020 offense and was consequently melancholy about Gary Kubiak’s farewell. Minnesota’s skipper is notorious for a run-first offensive approach reminiscent of his mentor, Bill Parcells. The odds are extremely long that Zimmer would reverse course on his Gary Kubiak comments or longstanding offensive philosophy in favor of something new.
Insert Klint Kubiak. He is well aware of his father’s system. He knows the players immersed in it. Cousins and Klint have partnered for more than two years. And, Klint knows Mike Zimmer. The more that the logic is analyzed here – Captain Obvious stuff arises. Klint will probably be the 2021 offensive coordinator.
He is the son of Gary, but that does not require total faith to his father’s playbook. Klint may add some sizzle to the Vikings scheme, perhaps splashy stuff. As a baseline though – along with trust allotted from Mike Zimmer — the overall scheme will mimic that of the 2020 offense. This is the leading criteria for his case to land the promotion.
Youth. And, It’s Time
Klint Kubiak celebrates a birthday shortly after Valentine’s Day. He will be 34. Klint is younger than the Vikings punter, Britton Colquitt. The son-Kubiak would be – by far – the youngest quarterback playing in the 2020 NFC Championship if his career had taken a different path.
If youth is your litmus test or fetish for offensive potency, Klint deserves an audition. So many googly-eyes peer at “young offensive minds” like Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, or Matt LaFleur. Why can’t Klint Kubiak be that for the Vikings?
What’s more, it is time for Klint to take his organic next step. He has piloted Cousins’ services to their most profitable point to date. Coaching progression is normally fast – especially in the modern NFL. It will not be odd or “too soon” for Klint to take the big job. This is how it works.
Get emotionally prepared for another Kubiak offense.