Longtime offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, who was known for his zone blocking scheme with the Denver Broncos, died from complications from a stroke, the Broncos announced Monday. Gibbs was 80 and surrounded by his family at his home in Phoenix.
Gibbs worked with the team over three different stints, most successfully the one between 1995 and 2003 that saw the Broncos win Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII. He was an offensive line legend who ushered in a new offensive philosophy to the league.
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Alex Gibbs, who had a profound impact on the Denver Broncos and the National Football League as an offensive line coach," the Broncos said in a statement. "During his 14 years with the Broncos, Coach Gibbs left a lasting legacy on this league with his innovative blocking schemes and outstanding teaching ability. He helped the Broncos to Super Bowls during three different decades — including back-to-back World Championships— while forging a reputation as one of the greatest assistant coaches in NFL history.
"Our hearts go out to Alex's wife, Trina, and the entire Gibbs family as well as Alex's many former players and fellow coaches."
Gibbs spent 15 years coaching in college and first started with the Broncos in 1984. He was hired as an offensive line coach by Dan Reeves and along with head offensive line coach Marvin Bass, he had to find a way to protect a young John Elway. They reached the Super Bowl with Gibbs on the sideline in 1986 and 1987.
He was promoted to head offensive line coach, but left in 1988 for seven years to work in various roles with the Las Vegas Raiders (then Oakland), Los Angeles Chargers (then San Diego), Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs. Gibbs returned to Denver in 1995 and cut the number of sacks Elway took in half (46 to 22) while helping open up running room for rookie Terrell Davis. Injuries stalled Davis' career, but the scheme worked for various 1,000-yard rushers over Gibbs' time there.
His final season on the Broncos coaching was with running back Clinton Portis in 2003. He then worked for the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans. In 2010 he was set to join the Seattle Seahawks staff, but retired and in 2013 returned to Denver as an offensive line consultant, helping the team win the Super Bowl again in the 2015 season.
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