OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Gary Kubiak was bored and in need of a job, if for no other reason to give his wife some breathing room at home.
At the same time, the Baltimore Ravens were in the market for someone who could add some spice and efficiency to the NFL’s 29th-ranked offense.
Both sides got what they wanted Monday when Kubiak was hired to be the Ravens’ offensive coordinator. Kubiak replaces Jim Caldwell, who was hired on Jan. 14 to coach the Detroit Lions.
The 52-year-old Kubiak was Houston’s coach from 2006 through last month, when he was fired after the Texans got off to a 2-11 start.
Baltimore also announced the hiring of Rick Dennison, the Texans former offensive coordinator, as their quarterbacks coach.
An extensive search for Caldwell’s replacement began with 30 candidates, coach John Harbaugh said. The search ended with the Ravens landing Kubiak, who served as Denver’s offensive coordinator for three seasons before being hired to guide the Texans in 2006.
“It became apparent this had a chance to be a fit for both coaches and the Ravens,” Harbaugh said.
Kubiak might want to have a team to call his own in the future, but at this point in his NFL career he’s quite content being in charge of reshaping a unit that sputtered for much of the 2013 season.
“Right now I want to be the best offensive coordinator I can be,” Kubiak said. “I told John this when he first called me: I said, ‘John, you know what? I want a chance to enjoy coaching, teaching, and I want a chance to win. And I know you would offer me all those opportunities if this thing would work out. So, really for me it’s about getting back. It’s a tough thing to go through. But right now, this has been the best day I’ve had in two months. I’m so excited to get back in this league and get back to work.”
Rhonda Kubiak was likely just as delighted.
“My wife is tired of me being around the house,” said Gary Kubiak, who went 61-64 as Houston’s head coach.
During his stay in Houston, the Texans always played Baltimore tough, and that made an impression on Harbaugh.
“You always kind of in your mind keep a list of the guys that gave you the most trouble as coaches,” Harbaugh said. “And this (Houston) staff, what they did offensively, what they’ve done over the years has always been just kind of a pain in our rear. Probably right out of the gates, that’s the first thing I thought about. It looks like all the ways that we want to look.”
Kubiak and Dennison will try to bolster a running attack that produced only seven touchdowns and averaged a franchise-worst 3.1 yards per carry in 2013. In addition, Joe Flacco threw a career-high 22 interceptions as the defending Super Bowl champions sagged to 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time in Harbaugh’s six seasons as Baltimore’s coach.
The addition of Kubiak and Dennison in key positions on the offensive staff might suggest the playbook will be look much like Houston’s. Harbaugh doesn’t care — if the results are positive.
“It’s not going to be the Texans’ offense or the Broncos’ offense or anybody’s offense. It’s going to be the Ravens,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be what we build with our players and our coaches. It’s going to look like Baltimore wants it to look. It’s going to be rugged, it’s going to be rough, it’s going to be tough, physical, downhill, precise football — passing game and running game.”
Former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Ravens receivers coach Jim Hostler were interviewed twice for the job, along with Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson.
Wilson was eliminated from contention on Saturday.
When Kubiak had dinner at Harbaugh’s house on Sunday night, it became obvious that Kubiak was going back to work and Harbaugh had found the man to fix the erratic Baltimore offense.
“It emerged here at the end,” Harbaugh said. “I think we did a great job with a thorough process. That was something that was important to us, to make sure we turned over every stone. We looked at college coaches. We looked at a lot of guys.”
In the end, Kubiak got the nod after being unemployed for just under two months.
“I wanted to keep working, I wanted to keep going,” Kubiak said. “I was kind of looking for something that hit me and said, ‘OK, this is it.’ And that’s what happened.”