Why Eric Bieniemy leaving Chiefs for Commanders would help him escape Andy Reid’s shadow, become an NFL head coach
Eric Bieniemy was the offensive coordinator behind the NFL’s No. 1 offensive line for three of his five years at Kansas City.
It now looks like he’s applying his coaching skills to a new team.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Friday that the Commanders will make Bieniemy their next offensive coordinator, ending a 10-year streak with the Chiefs where he has been the team’s offensive coordinator for the past five seasons.
The decision on his face may seem confusing. Bieniemy has coached Patrick Mahomes throughout the quarterback’s career and has enjoyed a run that has included three Super Bowl appearances and two rings. If he started for the same position as the Commanders, he would join a team with a big question mark at quarterback and find himself in a division where all three of Washington’s 2022 opponents made the playoffs.
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But the decision to leave Andy Reid and Mahomes makes sense for someone who aspires to be an NFL head coach someday. Here’s why he would choose to move on.
Why Eric Bieniemy is leaving Chiefs for Commanders
When people talk about the Chiefs, the narrative always revolves around Reid and Mahomes. Reid has noted throughout his Hall of Fame career that he is one of the brightest offensive heads in the NFL. Mahomes, who is already on track to join his coach at Canton, is the best quarterback of his generation and possibly the most talented to ever play at the position.
So it’s easy for Bieniemy to get lost in the mess. Reid is the offensive play-caller in Kansas City, and while Bieniemy has played an integral role in leading the offense, his contributions have been overshadowed by Reid and Mahomes. And after numerous interviews for head coaching positions without offers in recent years, it seems clear that other organizations don’t fully believe in Bieniemy’s ability to lead a team.
Even Reid seemed to acknowledge that his right-hand man might need a change of scenery to get his shot at becoming head coach.
“Eric Bieniemy has been great for us, and I think he’s great for the National Football League,” Reid said, according to NFL.com. “I hope he has an opportunity to go somewhere and do his thing where he can run the show and be Eric Bieniemy.”
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Reid has been outspoken in his belief that Bieniemy deserves an appearance as head coach in the NFL. He told reporters ahead of the Chiefs’ 2022 playoff run that he thought the off-season coaching cycle of 2022 would be the one where Bieniemy was hired.
“I’m disappointed that no one hired him,” Reid said, according to Kansas City television station KSHB. “Because he’s that good.”
In part, the track record of the offensive coaches under Reid who went on to become head coaches hurts Bieniemy. According to Pro Football Reference, under Reid there were six defensive coaches and five offense coaches who went on to become head coaches. Here’s what happened to them:
|Coach||role under Reid||job as a head coach||years coached||Record|
|Death Bowles||Eagles Secondary/Interim defensive coordinator||Jets, privateers||2015-18, 2022-present||34-50|
|Leslie Frazier||Eagle’s defender||viking||2010-13||21-32-1|
|Ron Rivera||Eagles linebacker||Panthers, commanders||2011-19, 2020-present||98-90-2|
|John Harbaugh||Eagles Special Teams/Defensive Backs Coordinator||ravens||2008-present||147-95|
|Sean McDermott||Eagles Defense Coach/Coordinator||bills||2017-present||62-35|
|Steve Spagnuolo||Defensive coach for the Eagles||Aries, giants (tentative)||2009-11/2017||11-41|
|Brad Childress||Eagles offensive coordinator||viking||2006-10||39-35|
|Matt Nagy||Eagles Offensive Coach/Chiefs Offensive Coordinator||bears||2018-21||34-31|
|Doug Pederson||Eagles Offensive Coach/Chiefs Offensive Coordinator||eagles, jaguars||2016-20/2022-today||51-45-1|
|Pat Shurmur||Eagles offensive coordinator||Browns, Eagles (tentative), Giants||2011-12, 2015, 2018-19||19-46|
|David Culley||Coach of the Eagles/Chiefs Wide Receivers||texan||2021||4-13|
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Of Reid’s coaching tree, four of the defensive coaches remain active, while only Doug Pederson remains active among the offensive head coaches. Defensive coaches have managed a team for 47 combined seasons, while offense coaches have combined for just 21 years. Reid’s defensive line coaches also have an all-time record of 373-343-3 compared to a record of 147-170-1 from the offensive side.
In Washington, Bieniemy would have a chance to fully control the offense under a defensive-minded head coach (and former Reid assistant) in Ron Rivera. Bieniemy would also have the benefit of probably little in his freshman season under a coach slowly finding himself in the hot seat and with an offense likely to be led by Sam Howell, who started one game and was a fifth reviewing round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
If Bieniemy manages to reverse the offense in Washington in his freshman season, it could greatly improve his standing in the eyes of other teams if he finds success outside of Reid and Mahomes. If things don’t go so well in Washington, there’s a chance that Rivera will become a victim in a turbulent organization looking for a wave of change, and it could be Bieniemy’s turn to succeed him.