After two seasons with the Denver Broncos, Gary Kubiak is expected to step down as the team’s head coach due to health concerns.
The news comes as the Broncos failed to make a return trip to the postseason, after an 8-4 start to the year. Despite continuing to field a top-ranked defense, the Broncos offense managed just 23 points over a three-game stretch in December, dropping the team from contention for another Super Bowl title.
In Kubiak’s first season, the Broncos weren’t an offensive juggernaut but still managed to score at least 20 points in each playoff game, including a 24-10 win in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.
But Peyton Manning announced his retirement shortly after the season ended, and the Broncos lost the replacement groomed to take over the job when Brock Osweiler joined the Houston Texans in free agency.
The decision not to pay Osweiler was justified by the quarterback’s struggles and eventual benching in Houston, but it has left the Broncos fishing for a quarterback, and so far the results haven’t been great.
First-round rookie Paxton Lynch didn’t look good in his limited time during the 2016 season, and 2015 seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian underwhelmed with an 83.9 passer rating.
But Denver’s unenviable quarterback situation, which still has the potential to improve, was hampered further by a rushing offense that was near the bottom of the league in yards per carry.
That leaves the Broncos with a lot to fix on offense, even if the team is still anchored by one of the NFL’s best defenses.
An even if the Super Bowl 50 winners weren’t an offensive juggernaut, the Broncos now feel far removed from a team ready to be elite in 2017. Fast turnarounds happen in the NFL, but teams quickly deteriorate too, and Denver has some hurdles to clear.
Those challenges will fall on the shoulders of a new head coach. While Kubiak managed to lead the team to a Lombardi Trophy in his first year at the helm, the Broncos face plenty of uncertainty heading into the 2017 offseason.
No longer will Kubiak — John Elway’s former teammate hand-picked to take over for John Fox — be the team’s leader.
Instead the Broncos enter 2017 with questions and uncertainty, and that’s a huge concern.