Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak may already be packing his bags.
Stakes were high for the first-year play-caller among a regime that needed a playoff appearance to save their jobs. The Vikings fell short. And the first two dominos have already fallen in head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman, who were fired on Monday.
While Minnesota sought external candidates for the offensive coordinator job, Kubiak seemingly inherited the position from his father, Gary Kubiak, who held the position for the 2020 position before retiring.
Now it seems Kubiak could be on his way out after an NFC team recently submitted a request to interview Kubiak.
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Panthers Plan Talks With Kubiak
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported late Tuesday night that the Carolina Panthers are planning talks with Kubiak for a position as offensive coordinator in Charlotte.
“The Panthers plan to talk with Vikings OC Klint Kubiak for their opening offensive coordinator job, per source,” Fowler tweeted. “Kubiak has been with Minnesota for the last three seasons.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio penned Kubiak as the man who could get “everyone fired” in Minnesota if his onboarding as play-caller did not work out. While the offense was not the demise of the Vikings’ 2021 season, inconsistencies were evident throughout the season.
However, Zimmer has intervened in offensive play-calling before and it’s muddy whether the offense’s struggles came from demands from Zimmer or poor decisions by Kubiak.
Kubiak saw many highs and lows in his first season of play-calling. He was the highest-graded offensive play-caller by Pro Football Focus through the first three weeks. However, the offense lacked consistency throughout the season and failed to put teams away.
Kubiak was the team’s quarterbacks coach for two seasons before being promoted to offensive coordinator and has the longest established rapport with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Kubiak attested that Cousins’ mastery of the playbook allowed the offense to open up more as the season progressed.
“I think we’ve evolved it a little bit just because he can handle so much,” Kubiak said of Cousins in an October 14 press conference. “He can handle a lot. He can probably handle even more than we’re giving him. He’s been so dialed in and can’t say enough about his leadership this year.”
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Gary Kubiak Remained Involved in 2021
Defector’s Kalyn Kahler recently wrote a long-form story on nepotism in the NFL. The Vikings are the centerpiece example, with the Zimmers and Kubiaks interweaved into the team’s coaching fabric.
Gary and Klint Kubiak arrived in Minnesota in the 2019 offseason as a package deal. After speaking to anonymous sources close to the team, Kahler found that Gary likely stuck around with the team to prime Klint for the offensive coordinator position. She also revealed a source’s claim that Gary remained involved in some capacity in 2021.
Here’s the section on the Kubiaks:
Gary joined the Vikings staff as an assistant head coach and senior offensive advisor in 2019, the same year Klint was hired as the Vikings’ QBs coach. At that point, Gary had been out of coaching for two years; health issues forced him to resign from the Broncos’ head coaching job after the 2016 season. In 2020, Gary’s lone season as Vikings OC, he worked closely with Klint to get him up to speed on the OC job, Source B told Defector.
“Sometimes you see guys that stay too long because they want to set their kid up,” Source A told me. “I think Kubes did that for Klint, get him set up before he walked out the door, even though his health said no.”
This is the advantage that Klint has over his peers (well, except for the 63 other NFL coaches who are sons of current or former NFL coaches, including his brother Klay Kubiak, defensive quality control coach for the Niners. Another brother, Klein Kubiak, is a scout for the Cowboys). Gary told me he prepared Klint just as he would any other coach on his staff. “You are trying to prepare all of them to be coordinators and head coaches,” he said. “That year, he is coaching QBs, and I am the OC, so that is as close a fit, that is the fit that is all over the game, a QB coach and an OC, as far as what he was doing and what I was asking him to do.”
Gary said Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman didn’t personally ask him about Klint in the process of promoting him. “They made a decision three or four months later to make Klint the coordinator,” he said. “So I don’t know, you would have to ask them how they came to that conclusion.”
These days, Gary is retired and living on his ranch in Texas. He’s not listed on the Vikings coaching staff, but Source B told me, “He is still involved.” When asked about his level of involvement, Gary insisted he’s not at all. “I let Klint and them do their own business.” The Vikings declined comment on Gary Kubiak’s involvement with the team.