"They'll never see the halfback pass coming."
Paul Kuharsky has a very nice article about Gary Kubiak on ESPN.com today (tip o' the cap to HoustonTransplant for e-mailing me about it). Most of it speaks glowingly of Kubes' offensive genius, with extended testaments to same from John Elway, Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson. Among other things, Elway had this to say about his former backup:
"You have to understand what defenses are doing and once you do, you’re able to attack them and he has a great feel for that," Elway said. "That to me is what separates good head coaches and good offensive coordinators from great ones -- the fact that they have a knack for the right call at the right time, that they are aggressive at the right time, they know on third-and-1 when to throw and when to run.
"It’s an innate knack that separates the good ones from the great ones. And Gary has that."
Before we get to what his players have to say, it seems like a good time to jump.
Matt Schaub, on Kubes:
“He just has such a great feel for what a defense is doing and how we can counteract it. It’s one thing to recognize it. But to be able to attack it the next play or the next series, not wait. We do so much with formations and motions from week to week, that is a great help for attacking defenses and he has a great feel for how to do that but still keep our concepts the same. It’s nothing new for us, we just have to learn where our spots are and then run our plays.”
“I think he’s a guru. As his career progresses he’ll get a lot more notoriety for what he’s able to do in this league and what he’s able to see out there. I just think his offensive mind is up there with the best of them. He’s one of the best chess players I’ve ever seen, I don’t know how much that means with me saying it. I’m not saying that just because he’s my head coach. I like to take my emotions out of any opinion that I have. And I feel like he’s one of the best out there offensively.”
Amdist all the admiration, Kuharsky observes that "it’s hard to find something negative while working on a piece like this and to find someone, even with no name attached, to pick apart a guy like Kubiak." In an effort to presumably balance the Kubilove, Kuharsky turns to Matt Williamson, a fellow ESPNer. Kuharsky notes that Williamson says "he likes Kubiak more as offensive coordinator than head coach" and then Williamson explains what he doesnt like about Kubes' offense:
“He’s great at what he does. He does a good job of game-planning against things they see on film, finding little mismatches here and there. For me, he’s helped my career out a lot. Just moving me around. Before he got here, I just pretty much stayed in one place, I was the split end, the X receiver. When he got here, they just started moving me around a lot trying to find ways to get me the ball.”
“Well, generally, the offensive line is undersized and relies on quickness and leverage. That can be a problem when trying to grind out the tough yards or simply trying to out-muscle the opponent. I also think it is telling that Kubiak really only features one wide receiver -- and everyone knows it. They have not put a premium on finding a wide receiver opposite Johnson because that isn’t a featured player in their offense.”
Much more frequently before the Texans' maiden playoff voyage and division title, many, many Texans fans (admittedly, I was one of them) remarked that Kubiak may be a better offensive coordinator than head coach. That criticism seems to have died down in the last year, though if we look at it objectively, what the Texans accomplished last year with a de facto "Head Coach--Defense" in Wade Phillips may only serve to strengthen the idea that Kubiak still isn't really a head coach as much as he is a "Head Coach--Offense" with the good fortune to have a veritable doppelganger on the other side of the ball. I'm not complaining, mind you. I don't give a rip how it works as long as it works, and what we saw in 2011 would seem to indicate it works exceptionally well.
What do you think of Williamson's criticisms of the purported problems with an undersized offensive line and the lack of a consistent wide receiver not named Andre Johnson? Legitimate dings against the genius of Kubes' offensive mind? Or mere nitpicking?