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Gary Kubiak named Ravens' new offensive coordinator

BALTIMORE -- Ravens head coach John Harbaugh engineered a bold shakeup of his offensive coaching staff Monday, breaking a trend of promoting from within by hiring two accomplished assistants with extensive play-calling experience.

Gary Kubiak, the former head coach of the Houston Texans, has been hired as the Ravens' offensive coordinator. His offensive staff will include one of his former Texans' assistants, Rick Dennison. Dennison, a former offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos and Texans, will coach the quarterbacks.

Long-time Ravens' assistant Wade Harman has also been informed that he will not return after coaching tight ends for the past 15 seasons.

The hires represent a jarring reversal of where things appeared to be headed in the process of finding a successor to offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who was hired as the Detroit Lions' head coach on Jan.14.

After informing Pittsburgh Steelers running back coach Kirby Wilson that he wasn't getting the job on Saturday, Harbaugh was deciding between promoting current wide receivers coach Jim Hostler or hiring Kyle Shanahan as his next offensive coordinator, according to sources.

Hostler, Harbaugh's wide receivers coach during his six-season tenure in Baltimore, was viewed as the favorite because of his close relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco and several key offensive players. However, Harbaugh reconsidered his options and spent Sunday interviewing both Kubiak and Dennison at the Under Armour Performance Center.

Kubiak, 52, was viewed as a wildcard throughout the process. A former NFL quarterback and a highly respected offensive mind, Kubiak was fired as the Texans' head coach in December with his team sitting with a 2-11 record. He compiled a 61-64 record as a head coach and took the Texans to the playoffs twice, losing in the divisional round both times, including to the Ravens in 2011.

He did interview for the Lions' head coaching job earlier this month, but it was unclear if Kubiak was willing to accept an offensive coordinator job or if he was content to sit out a year with the Texans paying him through the 2014 season anyway. His health -- Kubiak suffered a transient ischemic attack, or "mini-stroke," during a Nov. 3 game against the Indianapolis Colts -- was another factor in the discussion.

Kubiak reportedly declined overtures from the Cleveland Browns to be their offensive coordinator. However, the Ravens clearly have more to offer with a proven quarterback in Flacco and organizational stability.

Kubiak will be tasked with fixing an offense that finished 29th in the NFL in yards per game and 25th in scoring. Flacco threw a franchise-record 22 interceptions and the Ravens' running game accounted for the fewest yards in franchise history.

Kubiak's offenses have historically been productive and balanced, and he's had great success working with quarterbacks like John Elway and Steve Young. He was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2004, when Young led the team to a Super Bowl.

He then moved onto Denver, where he spent the entirety of his nine-season playing career, and served as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. With Kubiak teaming up with head coach Mike Shanahan, their offenses ranked in the top 10 in scoring in 10 of his 11 seasons with the Broncos and finished in the top two in points three times. He also won two Super rings as a Broncos' assistant coach.

His success as a coordinator in Denver led to him being hired as the Texans' head coach. During his time in Houston, the Texans ranked in the top 10 in scoring for four consecutive years before the team bottomed out this past season, costing Kubiak his job. Still, quarterback Matt Schaub made two Pro Bowl teams under Kubiak, while running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson became among the best players in the league at their respective positions.

Clearly, Kubiak also was interested in surrounding himself with some familiar faces. Dennison was the Broncos' offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008 after Kubiak went to Houston, where he eventually joined him in 2010.

During Dennison's time as an offensive coordinator in Denver, the Broncos averaged 350.5 yards per game and rushed for 124.4 yards per game and averaged 4.6 yards per carry.

In 2011, the Texans set a franchise record with 2,448 rushing yards. In 2012 with an offense run by Dennison, the Texans set a franchise record with 26 points per game and finished seventh in total offense with an average of 372.1 yards per game.

Dennison, 55, has coached in the NFL for nearly two decades, working primarily as an offensive line coach. This will be his first stint as a quarterbacks coach.

(c)2014 The Baltimore Sun

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