PHOENIX —** When you watch Houston's defensive dynamo J.J. Watt play, you get the sense he doesn't like quarterbacks very much. However, I do know there was at least one he particularly liked: his first head coach, Gary Kubiak, the former Broncos quarterback and Denver's new head coach.
"Coach Kubiak's a great man and a very good coach," Watt said. "I really respect him. He's a guy who I will always be— I mean, he drafted me. So I'm very fortunate for that. But he's a great man, he's a great coach and I think he's going to have success, so I'm happy for him."
Kubiak has garnered praise for his coaching prowess and people skills.
You really needn't look any further for proof than Justin Forsett, Kubiak's Pro Bowl running back from the Ravens this past season. Forsett feels somewhat indebted to Kubiak, who helped bring him to Baltimore from Houston after he played for him there previously.
"I loved the guy," Forsett said. "We have history all the way back from Houston and for me to come to Baltimore, him standing on tape to get me there, we have a special relationship and I'm just excited for him and his future. [...] He's been a blessing to my career. I mean for me to be in Baltimore, a large part was due to him."
The trust Kubiak builds with his players has been paramount, and his personality and responsibility is the reason why.
"He's a great coach. Down-to-earth guy. He's one of those guys that's not too proud. He'll admit when he's wrong or stand by his word. He's a great guy and I'll always have respect for him. [...] It's key. That means you can trust that guy. Just adds more weight to their word."
With his history as a player, Kubiak knows the players' perspective and that's another thing that endeared him to Watt.
"He's a type of guy who—he's played in the league obviously—he's had success in the league so he knows how to take care of his guys," Watt said. "When a coach is like that, he takes care of his players. You want to play for him. So I think he'll be very successful."
Coaches who have been around him for years feel the same way.
"Gary's always done it right. He understands the game very well, but he also treats people right," said Rick Dennison, the Ravens' quarterbacks coach with Kubiak last year and longtime coaching companion.
"His people skills are amazing. He handles the game very well. He handles people very well. He understands how to run things."