NFL round-up: Gary Kubiak appointed Denver Broncos head coach; five other teams also hire

Six head coaching vacancies are filled in eight busy days but the Falcons will have to wait for their man

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The Independent Online

The Denver Broncos have hired Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to succeed John Fox as head coach.

“It’s great to be home again,” said 53-year-old Kubiak, who spent nine years of his playing career as an understudy to quarterback John Elway– the man who now serves as general manager and Executive Vice President of Football Operations.

Kubiak arrives on a four-year deal that will see him take charge of a team who have won at least 12 regular season games in each of their last three years and topped the AFC West four years in a row.

Kubiak’s move to the Mile High City comes after five other NFL teams hired new head coaches.

The man who departed Denver, John Fox, was appointed the new head coach of the Chicago Bears on Friday, just four days after leaving the Broncos by mutual consent.

Fox was formally introduced on Monday and arrives in Chicago with an extensive CV in the NFL, having coached the Carolina Panthers for nine years before moving to Denver in 2011. It was there he compiled a 46-18 regular-season record, reached the play-offs in each of his four seasons and made it to last year’s Super Bowl.

The 59-year-old becomes only the second man in Bears history to come into the role with previous experience in head coaching.

But it was the Buffalo Bills who made the first move of the off-season when they announced the appointment of 52-year-old Rex Ryan last Monday. In his first press conference, the man who spent the last six years with the Bills’ AFC East rivals, the New York Jets, said: “I know the passion, it’s not just my passion, it’s everybody’s passion. We want to bring a championship to Buffalo.” He has signed a five-year deal.

Rex-Ryan.jpg
Rex Ryan moved from the New York Jets to the Buffalo Bills

Ryan’s former employers were next to hire, bringing in a new general manager in former Houston Texans scouting director Mike Maccagnan. That deal was followed by the appointment of Todd Bowles, previously the defensive coordinator at the Arizona Cardinals.

“It’s an honor and privilege to coach the Jets,” said Bowles, of joining the team that finished 2014 at 4-12. “I want to thank Mr. Johnson and Mike Maccagnan for this opportunity. I can’t help but be humbled by the chance to coach this team. I am going to do everything I can to build a consistent winner.”

Following that, the San Francisco 49ers announced on Wednesday the promotion of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to the vacant head coaching position. The 46-year-old was formally unveiled at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday and has been described by 49ers CEO Jed York as “a great teacher and a tremendous mentor”.

Tomsula has been with the team since 2007 and is a popular figure in the locker room. He was an integral part of a staff that transformed the fortunes of the 49ers and led them to three consecutive NFC Championship games plus a trip to Super Bowl XLVII under former coach Jim Harbaugh.

“It's awesome,” Tomsula said in first meeting with the press. "It's wonderful, but it's also a strong sense of responsibility. I get everything that goes along with it, too.”

The Oakland Raiders also sealed a deal for a new head coach, hiring former Jacksonville Jaguars man Jack Del Rio. Serving his last three years in the NFL as defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos, Del Rio was a boyhood Raiders fan.

“I've been a Raider fan all my life,” said the 51-year-old at his unveiling. “That's not the main reason I came back. I was blessed with this opportunity and agreed to take this job because of a lot of factors.”

In what has been a frantic fortnight of hiring, firing, interviewing and negotiating, the Atlanta Falcons are now the only NFL club without a head coach.

The Falcons are closing in Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, having conducted a second interview with the 44-year-old on Monday. But the job can’t be offered to Quinn until the after the Seahawks play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on 1 February.

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