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Saints name Klint Kubiak offensive coordinator, break from Sean Payton’s legacy

saints-name-klint-kubiak-offensive-coordinator,-break-from-sean-payton’s-legacy
Saints name Klint Kubiak offensive coordinator, break from Sean Payton’s legacy

The New Orleans Saints named Klint Kubiak their offensive coordinator on Wednesday, marking a new direction for a unit that has been overseen by either former coach Sean Payton or his protege, Pete Carmichael Jr., since 2006.

The 36-year-old Kubiak was the passing game coordinator for the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers last season, and his hiring could not be formalized until after the Niners played in Sunday’s Super Bowl, which they lost in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs, 25-22.

San Francisco had one of the NFL‘s most productive offenses in 2023, averaging 28.9 points and 398.4 yards per game. The Niners ranked fourth in yards passing at 257.9.

Kubiak’s father, Gary Kubiak, spent more than two decades as an NFL coach or assistant after a playing career in which he served as Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway’s backup in Denver. Gary Kubiak won a Super Bowl as coach of the 2015 Broncos.

The younger Kubiak has served two previous short stints as an offensive coordinator, with Minnesota and Denver. His first such stint with the Vikings came in 2021, which ended with then-coach Mike Zimmer being fired.

Kubiak also called plays in Denver for the latter half of the 2022 season, during which the Broncos went 5-12. Nathaniel Hackett started that season as Denver’s coach but was fired after 15 games, and Kubiak was on the move again when that season ended.

In San Francisco, he worked with coach Kyle Shanahan, whose offenses have ranked seventh or better in four of the past five seasons.

In New Orleans, Kubiak will answer to coach Dennis Allen, a former defensive coordinator who continues to call the Saints’ defense. Kubiak’s quarterback will be Derek Carr, who labored through injuries during the first half of the 2023 season, but performed better down the stretch as the Saints won four of their last five games to finish 9-8 and narrowly miss the playoffs.

“Klint has done an excellent job in a variety of roles in 10 years in the NFL and has valuable play-calling experience,” Allen said in a statement. “He has played an important role in the growth of many players throughout his career, starting with the quarterback position.”

The Saints ranked ninth in scoring at 23.6 points per game, 14th in yards per game at 337.2 and tied for the sixth-fewest offensive turnovers with 18. However, the offense stagnated repeatedly in critical situations during the first 12 games — a troubling trend after the offseason acquisition of Carr.

Issue with Saints players going rogue against Falcons?

New Orleans converted 53.3% of red zone opportunities into touchdowns, which ranked 18th. For much of the season, however, the Saints were in the bottom third of the NFL in that category. They lost seven games by fewer than 10 points.

The Saints have not made the playoffs since Drew Brees retired as the franchise’s all-time passing leader after the 2020 season. Now the hope in New Orleans is that the new offensive system scheme Kubiak will install better complements Allen’s defense, which has ranked 13th or better in each of past five seasons.

Kubiak began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 2010 at Texas A&M, where his father and Dennis Allen both played.

He took his first NFL job with Minnesota in 2013 as an offensive quality control coach. He returned to the college ranks as Kansas‘ receivers coach in 2015 before returning to the NFL on his father’s staff with Denver in 2016. He remained in Denver until joining Zimmer in Minnesota in 2019.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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