MOBILE, Ala. — The Minnesota Vikings are handing offensive coordinator duties to Gary Kubiak, multiple league sources confirmed to ESPN. Kubiak served as the team’s assistant head coach/offensive adviser during the 2019 season.
Kubiak will take over the role held by Kevin Stefanski since Week 15 of the 2018 season. Stefanski left Minnesota after 14 seasons to become the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
During his season-ending news conference, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer prioritized a need to retain continuity on offense as the team began its search for Stefanski’s replacement. Minnesota hired Kubiak last year to serve in an advisory role; on game days, Stefanski called plays from the sideline while Kubiak oversaw the offense from the coaches box. Along with the hire came Kubiak’s signature zone-blocking scheme that he ran in 21 seasons as an NFL head coach or offensive coordinator.
From 2018 to 2019, the Vikings offense jumped from 19th to eighth in points and 23rd to sixth in yards per attempt. Minnesota had the second-highest designed run percentage (47) in the NFL last season and averaged 133.3 rushing yards per game.
“It’ll be the same system,” Zimmer said last week. “Obviously [quarterback Kirk Cousins] is going to have a new offensive coordinator. It’ll be his fifth coordinator in five years, I think he told me yesterday, or at least voice in his ear on game day. So, I mean, there’s nothing I can do about that, but I think it’s important not just for Kirk, but for the entire offense, to have the same system, the same calls and things like that so that when they come in here on day one it’s not completely foreign to them.”
Kubiak’s passing offenses have ranked in the top 10 in net yards per attempt 12 times since his first year as a coordinator in 1995. Eleven times, his scoring offenses cracked the top 10 during that span. A lot of that had to do with how much he was able to get out of the quarterback position.
Cousins compiled one of his strongest seasons as a pro, leading the NFL with 13 touchdowns off play-action. The Vikings QB notched the third-highest completion percentage of his career (69.1), had the NFL’s fourth-best passer rating (107.4) and was seventh in yards per attempt (8.1).
“I think Kirk played a lot better this year than he did the year before,” Zimmer said. “I think obviously the scheme helped him quite a bit, and so I think yeah, I think this may have been his best year that he’s played in the NFL.”
Kubiak, who already was under contract through the 2020 season, according to a source, helped revive the Vikings offense during a season that ended in the divisional playoffs. Stefanski often talked about the impact Kubiak had on his limited experience calling plays.
“Having him around has been invaluable to me,” Stefanski said in November. “This is my first year doing this, so having somebody that I can bounce ideas off of both during the week and during the game. … I think it’s a really great working environment [on this staff] where we could get a lot done and respect each other’s ideas and thoughts. And Gary’s certainly at the forefront of that.”
Before joining the Vikings staff, Kubiak held a position in the Denver Broncos personnel department after retiring from coaching after the 2016 season. He led Denver to a win in Super Bowl 50 and holds the record for wins with the Houston Texans (61), where he was the head coach from 2006 to 2013.