Kubiak has coached for four Super Bowl-winning teams and produced offenses that were top 10 in either points or yards in 17 of his 24 seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator. His formula he picked up from Denver Broncos legend Mike Shanahan: a zone-running scheme that has proven successful even as the talent in front of him has changed over the years.
Kubiak hasn’t spoken on the recent reports surrounding Dalvin Cook’s holdout and contract negotiations, but he did talk about his experience with running backs and how Cook fits his scheme in a virtual press conference on Wednesday:
“I love running backs,” Kubiak said. “I’ve had some really good ones in my day. Got a couple world championship rings because of one I’m thinking of in my head right now. We believe in running the football.”
He added that Cook is both an ideal player and person for the Vikings, per the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer.
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Kubiak Not Concerned With Cook Missing Time
So far, Cook has held out of the final two week of virtual meetings as the Vikings expect to return to their practice facility in the coming weeks. Despite his absence, Kubiak’s confident Cook won’t miss a beat if he were to hold out longer.
“Dalvin Cook is very bright,” Kubiak said. “He has as good a grasp (as anyone) on what we do and how we go about it. Dalvin could teach a class (on our offense) — he’s that bright and that smart of a football player.”
Kubiak, entering his 25th season as a coach, has remained focused on readying the rest of the offense and likely won’t ever announce which corner he’s backing, but he did give some support for Cook and is confident about the negotiations going further.
“Dalvin is a great player,” Kubiak said. “He’s a great person also. … When it comes to contracts, I’m not a negotiator, that’s between Rick (Spielman) and Dalvin. But that’s part of the business and we all understand that. Those guys will do their job and we have to stay focused on our job as a football team moving forward. We support Dalvin. Rick and he will go about their business, but we’ve got to get ready to play here this season so we’ll stay focused on that.”
Cook’s Potential In Kubiak’s Offense
Kubiak’s success with running backs has earned him a reputation of turning unknown players into stars — a reputation that is not unwarranted.
The running back Kubiak was reminiscing on in Wednesday’s press conference was Terrell Davis, a sixth-round 1995 draft pick turned NFL Most Valuable Player — rushing for over 2,000 yards in 1998 — and winning two Super Bowls in the process.
As the Houston Texans head coach in 2008, Kubiak drafted Steve Slanton in the third round. Slaton totaled over 1,600 all-purpose yards in his rookie season before fumble troubles and injuries slid him to the bottom of the depth chart. Kubiak turned undrafted free agent Arian Foster into an overnight first-team All-Pro selection, compiling 2,220 yards from scrimmage in 2010. Foster rushed for over 1,200 and 1,400 yards the next two seasons before suffering a back injury in 2013 — Kubiak’s final year in Houston.
Cook is the highest-drafted and arguably most talented running back Kubiak has ever worked with. Kubiak’s influence as an “offensive advisor” was evident in his first year with the Vikings. Cook produced 1,654 yards from scrimmage and 13 TDs.
Looking back at Kubiak’s past running backs, it’s safe to say Cook could reach and even surpass some of their most productive seasons.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire