Eric Bieniemy: Head Coach in Waiting?
The 2021 NFL coaching carousel is now complete. Seven first time NFL head coaches will get their shot at steering their franchises to the coveted Super Bowl. It is too early to grade how each will fare in their new roles.
But it is time we spoke about a coach who has been passed over for the second consecutive year as a head coach hire. Before I give names let us review this coach’s resume.
This coach played eight seasons in the NFL. He began his NFL coaching career in 2006 as the Minnesota Vikings running backs coach. In Minnesota, he would coach future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson would win 2007 rookie of the year, 2008 Peterson leads the league in rushing, 2009 Peterson is top 3 rushing and number 1 in rush TD’s. In 2008 and ‘09 Peterson is an All-pro. From 2006 to 2010 Minnesota was top 5 in every rushing stat. (yards, TD, average yard per run)
Unnamed coach then spends 2011 at the college level. He returns as the RB coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. From 2012-2015 KC is in the top of the league in rush yards, TD, and average yards per run. In 2017 his 3rd round rookie running back, Kareem Hunt is the league leading rusher.
In 2018 unnamed coach is promoted to Offensive coordinator (without play calling duties) his 2nd year QB throws for 50 TD, wins MVP, and was 1 defensive offsides from defeating Tom Brady and going to the Super Bowl.
In his first year as Offensive Coordinator his offense ranks as the #5 ALL TIME leader in DVOA, DVOA breaks down the entire season play-by-play, comparing success on each play to the league average based on a number of variables including down, distance, location on field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality.
The 2018 Chiefs offensive DVOA ranks better than the 2013 Broncos led by none other than Adam Gase. The same Gase who has had TWO head coaching jobs since then and being fired from both.
In 2019 this unnamed coach assumed play calling duties and didn’t miss a beat from Andy Reid.
The Chiefs offense has ranked top 5 in offense and Points Per Game in his time as OC. The Chiefs would come back from multi score deficits in the playoffs and the Super Bowl to win. In 2020 the Chiefs are once again playing for a Super Bowl.
As you may have guessed this unnamed coach is Eric Bieniemy. With this resume and the amount of success that he has had it is mind blowing that he has not been hired as a head coach. There hasn’t been a lack of open positions. In the last two years twelve head coaching positions have opened.
Almost half of the teams in the NFL have hired new coaches. In 2020 we saw two retreads in Ron Rivera and Mike Mccarthy along with three new faces Kevin Stefanski, Joe Judge and Matt Rhule.
So the question that I ask is not why has Bienemy not been hired? Lesser qualified coaches have been hired for the same jobs that Bieniemy has also interviewed for. Instead I am asking what is Bieniemy waiting for?
“if they don’t see all the things that will help them grow as an organization, that’s okay. Because guess what? I have an opportunity here to work with a Hall of Fame head coach, we’ve got some great people here who happen to be great football players and we’ve had a great deal of success. I enjoy what I do.”
That was Bieniemy’s response to a reporter from USA Today when asked if he feels he has been overlooked as a candidate.
NFL owner’s make bonehead decisions all the time, the Jets hired Adam Gase after he was fired from the division rival Miami Dolphins, the Houston Texans kept giving Bill O’Brien more power as he continued to run the team like a dictator. Since 1994 The Browns have had more head coaches (11) than winning seasons (4).
But to not hire a coach who: clearly has had success, learned under a hall of fame coach in Andy Reid who’s coaching tree includes head coaches; Matt Nagy, John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Doug Peterson and Sean McDermott all of whom have taken their teams to the playoffs in recent years, is inexcusable.
But what if it’s not the teams but instead its Bieniemy saying Thanks but no thanks?
What is Bieniemy waiting for? The answer is Andy Reid’s retirement. Reid is 62 years old and has achieved as much success as any coach could dream. Back to back Super Bowl wins loom for the Chiefs, the core of the Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are all superstars and in their prime of their careers. Why would Bieniemy leave Kansas City? Any potential job is a step down from what he has.
The front office of the Kansas City Chiefs is one of the best in the NFL they have found countless late round stars and have a quarterback that looks to be the greatest of all time.
Some will say he might want to create his own legacy. This is a valid counter but one that holds no merit. Mahomes is lightening in a bottle, before Mahomes Andy Reid was considered a good not great coach. Now he is compared to Bill Belichick.
Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs are young enough that Bieniemy can create a dynasty comparable to The Patriots with Brady, The 49ers with Montana, and the Steelers with Bradshaw.
Andy Reid has an eye for talent. He and the rest of the league know that Bieniemy has the capability to be a head coach. So what we may think of as the league not offering could actually be not offering something as good. Eric Bieniemy will be the next head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.