When Washington Commanders Head Coach Dan Quinn was hired last week, his first move was to outmaneuver the Las Vegas Raiders to grab former USC Offensive Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to replace Eric Bieniemy. That meant the former Chief OC was jobless, which might be the case in 2024.
The Washington Commanders didn’t want to retain Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy but had to find his replacement first. In hiring Kliff Kingsbury, they felt what many suspected – EB excelled only under Andy Reid, and now he’s out of work.
His one-year tenure with the Commanders was supposed to be a giant building block to becoming a future NFL Head Coach, but that didn’t quite pan out. In the recent interview cycle, he met with the Commanders, and they were so unimpressed with Bieniemy that they hired Dan Quinn. EB would have been better than Quinn, but he was not what the Commanders wanted.
I like EB, but he’s not head coaching material. We can debate his impact with the Chiefs as an offensive coordinator, but he was always in Reid’s shadow. He had a chance to stand out in Washington, but he failed.
During the 2023 season, many Chiefs fans felt the team’s failure to become cohesive on offense until late December had much to do with the fact the fiery Bieniemy wasn’t on staff. I can’t deny that is partially accurate in theory, but I don’t think, outside of a kick in the butt, he would have changed anything.
Listen, he’s a terrific coach and did make contributions under Reid with the offense, but he can’t run and execute his show as an offensive coordinator at the NFL level. It’s sad, but the lack of interest in his skills as a head coach boils down to the fact that he’s likely sitting on the sidelines this season.
Bieniemy missed the boat a few years ago in 2019, passing on the University of Colorado job before the Chiefs started winning Super Bowls. Had he taken the job following Mel Tucker, he could have used the collegiate experience to show he could run a program, build a staff, and recruit. He would also learn to rub shoulders with boosters, who are much like NFL Owners.
The biggest knock on Bieniemy is that NFL teams didn’t feel he had the contacts to build an NFL staff, and he was rough around the edges. If we learned anything in the recent coaching carousel in the NFL, Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel were passed over, partially because of how they came off to the people around them.
Bieniemy is old school, and that’s not a bad thing. However, to become a head coach in the NFL today, you must be able to play politics, convince owners you will succeed, and be accessible to everyone in the building.
I know the narrative doesn’t fit my opinions because many feel his color has thwarted his chances to succeed as an NFL Head Coach, but that’s not true. Four minority coaches took over franchises this year in New England, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Carolina.
In each case, Jerod Mayo, Raheem Morris, Antonio Pierce, and Dave Canales knew what to say to ownership to convince them they were the right men for the job. It wasn’t about their coaching style or lack of head coaching experience; they came into the interview process as the men to beat. They also had a plan in hand.
The bottom line is that he’s interviewed 18 times for head coaching vacancies since 2018 and was never offered the job.
Bieniemy has a terrific coaching resume, but that’s not enough. The NFL has always been the ‘Good Ole Boy’ network, and while minority hires are on the rise on the sidelines and the front offices around the NFL, sometimes good candidates aren’t viewed as good Head Coaching prospects because they don’t understand the landscape of the job, they are seeking from the ownership perspective.
That appears to be the case for Bieniemy, and that is why NFL teams have passed him over for jobs with lesser resume builders. Thus, I don’t expect him to return to the Chiefs anytime soon. Even though he visited the Chiefs before their game against Baltimore, the two sides might not have a reunion in 2024.
They awarded him every chance to get a head coaching job, and a year ago, they moved on. If I were EB, I’d try to find a college or NFL job as a position coach and rebuild his brand for one final push to become an NFL Head Coach before that door shuts for good.