Eric Bieniemy’s next job won’t be a promotion to the top rung of coaching from the offensive coordinator job he held with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Washington Commanders were finalizing a deal with Bieniemy on Friday to make him assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, NFL Network reported. In Washington, Bieniemy will be charged with improving an offense that ranked 24th in scoring and 27th in yards per play last season.
Bieniemy will also call plays for the first time in his NFL coaching career. In Kansas City, head coach Andy Reid was responsible for the play-calling, while Bieniemy had an extensive role in developing the game plan. In Washington, there will also be a significant question mark at quarterback. Head coach Ron Rivera said second-year quarterback Sam Howell has the inside track for the starting job for the 2023 season, with veteran Carson Wentz still on the roster as of now.
Washington will enter a crucial fourth season under head coach Ron Rivera. The Commanders have gone a combined 22-27-1 in his first three seasons, winning the NFC East title with a 7-9 record in 2020. With the franchise up for sale, it’s likely that the Commanders would need a strong season for the staff to continue.
Bieniemy has interviewed for several head-coaching jobs over the past four offseasons without receiving any offers. This year, he interviewed for the Indianapolis Colts’ head-coaching position, but that job went to Shane Steichen.
“It’s so past deserved,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said before the Super Bowl. “He’s done everything the right way. He’s been a part of this offense and this team for so long, holds everybody accountable, is creative in making up plays for us. I don’t know why he hasn’t been hired, but it’s been great for us.”
He’s been told he needs to “prove himself” more
The head coaching hiring process has been patently unfair to Bieniemy. Nobody in the NFL has a better resume, but continually he’s been passed over for lesser-qualified candidates — even those coming from similar offensive backgrounds.
One possible notion why is that Kansas City has been a fairly easy place to coach since 2018. The team had the best quarterback in the NFL, an offensive mastermind at head coach, and essentially all the pieces needed for success.
It’s a chance for him to run the show
One of the routine charges against Bieniemy is based off a spurious idea that he’s been riding Reid’s coattails in Kansas City. Reid himself has rejected this idea, and even advocated for Bieniemy getting a shot to coach — but it’s fallen on deaf ears.
That said, Reid is still a big part of the offensive playcalling in Kansas City, regardless of who draws up the plays themselves. In Washington the entire offense would be on him, with Rivera being very hands off when it comes to offense and putting trust in his coordinators.
Washington’s success, or failure, would be Bieniemy’s and his alone. If you’re confident in your ability to work with the roster then all the credit is waiting for you on the other side.
Perhaps part of what kept Bieniemy in Kansas City was the possibility Reid would retire and he would be the coach in waiting, but with Andy saying he wants to keep coaching it shuts that door.
Washington is a new challenge
It’s not fun winning in Madden over and over again on rookie difficulty. That’s essentially what you’ve got in KC. This past season was the biggest challenge the team had as they moved away from relying on Tyreek Hill and revamping the offense with JuJu Smith-Schuster as their top receiver aside from Travis Kelce, and the result was more astouding offensive success.
At some point the process of just winning because of Mahomes and the Chiefs’ incredible offensive talent has to get old. Flipping over to the NFC means he won’t directly be getting in Reid’s way and hurt the Chiefs, while also taking on a considerable challenge.
Who replaces Bieniemy in Kansas City?
In accordance with the Rooney Rule, the Chiefs will have to interview at least one external minority candidate for their offensive coordinator vacancy.
Nagy served as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator from 2016-17 before being hired as the Chicago Bears’ head coach. He returned to the staff this past fall after he was let go by the Bears.
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