A year after guiding the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl victory, Gary Kubiak is stepping down as head coach because of health concerns.
Kubiak released a statement on his decision Monday, per the team:
As I told our team last night, this is an extremely difficult decision to step down as head coach. I love to work and I love football, but ultimately the demands of the job are no longer a good fit for me.
I gave everything I had to this team the last two seasons, but this year, in particular, has been tough on me. As hard as it is to leave this position, I know that it’s the best thing for myself, my family and the Denver Broncos.
I’ve been blessed to spend more than two decades with the Broncos working for Mr. Bowlen and a great organization from top to bottom. I’m forever grateful to this team, in particular John Elway and Joe Ellis, for giving me the opportunity to serve as its head coach. There are countless others to thank, including players, coaches, personnel staff, trainers, support staff and fans.
Although we fell short of our goals this year, I’m proud of our teams these past two seasons. Helping to bring Mr. Bowlen, his family and this organization its third Super Bowl is something that will always be very special to me.
I’m not sure what my future holds, but I know that I’ll always consider myself a Bronco. This team is in good hands with a lot of outstanding people, and I expect great things ahead for the Denver Broncos.
"I'm retiring from coaching," Kubiak added at his press conference Monday, per Vic Lombardi of Altitude TV. "I'm getting out of coaching."
"I'm doing great," Kubiak added, per Mike Klis of 9News. "But coaching is a very demanding business. We all have our routine.''
Broncos general manager John Elway said he started discussing Kubiak's resignation with the head coach a week ago, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.
Elway said Kubiak told him he wanted to talk to the GM as a friend, not a boss, per Troy Renck of Denver7.
Elway added that he tried to sway Kubiak's decision one final time Monday morning, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Russell Okung expressed his support for Kubiak via Twitter:
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and NFL.com first reported that Kubiak told the team he was retiring after Sunday's 24-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Rapoport noted that Kubiak "stressed how much he's gone through this year" during his postgame message, and Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post tweeted that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said the Broncos understood why Kubiak was resigning.
Kubiak, 55, missed a game in October against the San Diego Chargers because of a complex migraine condition. He also suffered a ministroke while coaching the Houston Texans in 2013.
Despite the health concerns, Kubiak has not taken an extended break from coaching. He served as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator in 2014 after being fired in Houston with three games remaining in the 2013 season.
The Broncos went 21-11 under Kubiak, including a Super Bowl victory a year ago. He successfully navigated the waning twilight of Peyton Manning's career and built a run-first, conservative offense that allowed Denver's all-time great defense to thrive.
But a slight regression on defense was enough to knock Denver from Super Bowl contender to out of the playoffs. Trevor Siemian was not appreciably worse than Manning was in 2015—in some areas he was better—but the ground game struggled, and a merely good defense put the Broncos on the outside looking in.
Denver will now search for its third coach in the last four seasons. No coach has lasted more than four seasons since Mike Shanahan's departure, though Kubiak's resignation is more a product of mitigating circumstances than anything.
Denver was likely to make wholesale offensive changes as is, and it might be smart to expect an offensive-minded coach to replace Kubiak.