Denver Broncos: Gary Kubiak Exit Opens Door Wide For Kyle Shanahan

Nov 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In a somewhat stunning turn of events, Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak is expected to step down after the 2016 season concludes.

Though the Broncos will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010, there was no speculation at all that Kubiak was in trouble. He’d just led the team to a Super Bowl championship. This decision has nothing to do with how he’s doing his job. Instead it’s all about what the job is doing to him. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the decision is one insisted by family who fear his health is getting to a point where staying on the sidelines will be dangerous.

“This year has taken a toll on the 55-year-old Kubiak and his family. Kubiak left the team for a week in October and missed a Thursday night game in San Diego for what the team called a “complex migraine condition.” Back in 2013, when Kubiak was coaching the Houston Texans, he suffered a mini-stroke during a game and had to be rushed to the hospital.

Physically, the demands of the job have become too risky for Kubiak, according to sources.”

There is no arguing with these points. Honestly there isn’t much left for him to do in the NFL. He won two Super Bowls as an assistant coach and now has one as a head coach. Stepping down would be the right thing to do. His long-term health is far more important than the game. Yet it does present the team with yet another big decision to make this off-season.

Aug 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan before a game against the Washington Redskins at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan before a game against the Washington Redskins at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Before this announcement it had to do with what the team does at quarterback and whether or not defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would be re-signed. Trevor Siemian had his good moments in 2016, but 1st round pick Paxton Lynch is waiting in the wings. The time might be right for the team to think about moving forward with him. As for Phillips, his contract his up and this exit by Kubiak, the man who hired him clouds the situation even further.

Word is already filtering out that Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph could be an early favorite to replace Kubiak. However, there is another name out there that seems almost too perfect an option for them.

Denver fans haven’t heard the name Shanahan in a long time. Not since the elder Mike Shanahan was unceremoniously fired after a late collapse in the 2008 season. Of course people remember he was the architect of the famed 1997 and 1998 championship teams that got the monkey off the back of John Elway as one of the great quarterbacks ever. Despite how things ended, he’s still revered and respected by many.

Try to imagine the over-the-top romance of the idea that his son returns to the kingdom to take over the throne his father helped forge. Game of Thrones could shoot that script. Kyle Shanahan is ready to be a head coach. He’s had tons of success as an offensive coordinator during stints in Houston (under Kubiak), Washington (under his father) and now in Atlanta. Matt Ryan is in the running for MVP and the Falcons have won the AFC South this year.

Shanahan is the primary reason for that. He’s only 37-years old and been groomed by three different head coaches. All of whom have won a Super Bowl. Thus he brings pedigree to the job and also exactly what the Broncos need. Somebody who can inherit the duty of turning Paxton Lynch into a viable NFL starting quarterback.

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