Englewood, CO (SportsNetwork.com) - Gary Kubiak was introduced Tuesday as the new head coach of the Denver Broncos and said he was happy to be home.
Kubiak, the former head coach of the Houston Texans who spent last year as the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, has a long history with the Broncos. He was the backup quarterback for John Elway from 1983-91 and spent 11 seasons as the club's offensive coordinator from 1995-2005.
"When I got off the plane ... I knew that I was home," said Kubiak on Tuesday. "I'm proud to be back in the Bronco nation. This was a big part of my life and I'm looking at it be a big part of it again. Now, it's time to go to work."
Kubiak takes over for John Fox, who guided Denver to AFC West titles in each of his four seasons and also led the Broncos to the Super Bowl after the 2013 campaign. This year's squad was eliminated in the divisional round at home by the Indianapolis Colts, leading to Fox's departure in a mutual decision with management.
"This is a great football team," Kubiak said about trying to fulfill the lofty expectations created by the success of the last four years. "The next level is winning the Super Bowl. You have to position yourself for taking that next step. It's been proven year in and year out that you want to be playing your best in January."
Kubiak remembers how important January football is. He was on the sideline as offensive coordinator for each of Denver's two Super Bowl titles with Elway as the quarterback.
Elway, of course, is now in charge of the Broncos as the team's executive vice president and general manager. He and Fox could not agree on a direction for the team going forward, opening the door for a new coach.
Kubiak was the Hall of Famer's No. 1 choice.
"He was definitely at the top of the list," Elway said about the coaching search. "Gary was the leader in the clubhouse. Our concern was whether he wanted to be (a head coach) again."
Kubiak went from the Broncos' offensive coordinator to the head coach of the Texans in 2006. He helped turn the Houston franchise around in his eight seasons, leading the club to its first two playoff appearances.
The Texans went 10-6 in 2011 and 12-4 in 2012, winning the AFC South and one playoff game each year, but a disastrous 2013 followed. After winning their first two games of the 2013 campaign, Houston went on to lose 11 straight before Kubiak was fired in early December. He finished his tenure with a record of 61-64.
Kubiak landed in Baltimore this past season and helped the Ravens to one of their top offensive performances. Baltimore posted a franchise-record 364.9 yards per game on offense and the Ravens reached the playoffs as a sixth seed, beating Pittsburgh before falling to New England.
As numerous coaching vacancies opened earlier this month, Kubiak declined to throw his hat in the ring. He said he was happy to remain in Baltimore, that is until the Broncos' job was there for the taking.
"I felt very good about what I was doing (in Baltimore)," said Kubiak on Tuesday. "I was very comfortable, but this (opportunity) is a game changer. This is where I got my start. This is home for me. This means so much to me. I can't wait to go out there. I was standing there with (the team) last time they won the championship."
Now, Kubiak will have the task of trying to lead the Broncos to another title.
Whether he has quarterback Peyton Manning at his disposal is another question.
Kubiak said he has spoken with Manning, who hasn't decided whether he will return for another season.
"We have talked, talked a couple of days ago at length and last night via text," said Kubiak, who added that the two didn't speak about Manning's upcoming decision.
"We didn't get that far. It was just conversations about family, about how he's feeling. We were just setting the stage for our time to get together and talk. This is his time, his decision and I need to be there for him."
Kubiak started five games as Elway's backup during his time as a player with the Broncos. After his playing career ended, he took his first coaching job as running backs coach with Texas A&M in 1992 and '93, then moved on to the NFL as quarterbacks coach with San Francisco in 1994 before first returning to the Broncos.