PHOENIX | Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in January publicized his desire to become an NFL head coach. His former boss, Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, expected teams to consider him more than they actually did.
“I was actually surprised he didn’t come up more and have some opportunities because I think he’ll be a great one,” Kubiak said Tuesday at the AFC coaches’ breakfast here at the NFL’s annual meetings.
Kubiak has known Shanahan since Shanahan was a boy. Kubiak was the Denver Broncos’ backup quarterback in 1984 when current Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, joined the club as a wide receivers coach. Kyle was 4 the time.
Kyle joined Kubiak’s staff in Houston as a wide receivers coach in 2006 and rose to offensive coordinator before leaving to join the Redskins in Jan. 2010. Kubiak has enjoyed watching Kyle’s evolution from afar the last three seasons.
“I think it’s been tremendous, but you could see it from the start,” Kubiak said. “I think one of the most impressive things is not only has he taken his offense and what he does to a new level each and every year, but now he comes this year and adds the addition of the read option…and the things that he and Mike put together this year offensively for their new, young quarterback. That just tells you how flexible you have to be in this league to continue to move the ball. So I’m very proud of him.”
Kubiak is convinced Shanahan, 33, will be a head coach before long. The Redskins last season ranked first in the NFL in average yards per play.
“He’s still very young; but very confident,” Kubiak said. “Reminds me of his dad a lot – very confident in what he does. A fiery guy; players respond to him. Excellent teacher in the classroom, and that’s all you can ask.”
Kubiak ascended to an NFL head coaching job via a path similar to the one Kyle is taking. He was Mike Shanahan’s offensive coordinator in Denver from 1995-2005. Although Kyle has been a coordinator for only half the time Kubiak was, Kubiak believes readiness to become a head coach is a bit of a nebulous concept.
“I don’t know if you’re ever ready,” he said. “I think you get thrown in there and you start to adjust. When you’re around somebody like his dad who has been so successful for so many years, I think he can give you a lot of advice.
“I can’t talk for Mike, but I’m sure Mike probably tells him: “You need to do this a couple more years,” or this or that. I don’t know. But I know, for me, I got a lot of advice from [former San Francisco 49ers coach] George Seifert. I got a lot of advice from Mike and guys like that tell you: ‘You’re ready to go. Go get after it.’ You can probably trust those guys some. He’s got a good one to listen to.”