Rob Issa, FISM News
Eric Bieniemy is pursuing a new challenge with the Washington Commanders after helping the Kansas City Chiefs win two Super Bowl titles in the past four years as offensive coordinator.
Bieniemy left the Chiefs to become Washington’s offensive coordinator. While the move appears lateral on paper, it comes with more responsibility. Bieniemy will run his new team’s offense under head coach Ron Rivera. The Commanders also gave Bieniemy the assistant head coach title.
In Kansas City, head coach Andy Reid still called the shots on offense. Coaching in Reid’s shadow may explain why Bieniemy hasn’t been offered a head coaching position despite 16 interviews with 15 teams over the past several years.
“I think it’s very important for a number of reasons, and the beauty of it is me and Coach Rivera will work through that,” Bieniemy said about the assistant head coach title. “At the end of the day, Eric Bieniemy is a ball coach. Eric Bieniemy wants to know the people who he’s gonna work with. Eric Bieniemy wants to make sure that these guys understand that we are going to learn to put consistent behavior on tape.
“But also understanding that when we’re playing for each other and doing things for the greater good of the organization, also seeing the big picture that this game isn’t that hard. It can be a whole lot of fun, but it’s gonna be fun when you’re making the necessary sacrifices to make each other better. All right? That’s some of the things that I’m excited about. Those are some of the things I’m looking forward to. And so when it comes to job titles and all that, you guys gotta understand, yes, I am the assistant head coach, I am the offensive coordinator. My job is to get these guys to go out and do and be the best that they can be. So that’s gonna be my focus right now.”
The Commanders missed the playoffs the past two seasons and will enter the offseason with second-year pro Sam Howell as the starting quarterback. Taylor Heinicke is also under contract.
Bieniemy had the benefit of coaching two-time NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City. He doesn’t have a superstar at QB now but the Commanders have talented players at skill positions, including running backs Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson and wide receivers Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Jahan Dotson.
“I can sit here and point out all the great things that some of these guys have done throughout their career, but that’s not important right now,” Bieniemy said Thursday. “What’s important is this, I gotta evaluate every player on this roster, and I haven’t had an opportunity to do that. A lot of these guys I’ve talked to at the combine, I’ve followed their careers and obviously we’ve played against each other. So, I’ve had an opportunity to watch some of these guys play. So obviously there’s some talent here, but I’m gonna work, do my job. … Just making sure that we’re doing the right things and making sure that we are evaluating and doing what is right for the organization, for the team moving forward.”
Bieniemy has interviewed previously for head coaching positions with the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and twice with the New York Jets.
He says he didn’t come to Washington to prove he can have success outside of Reid’s shadow, so he could finally get that opportunity to run a team.
“Being a head coach right now is not in my thought process,” Bieniemy said. “Here’s what I’m focused on. I got to be where my feet are. So right now my feet are planted right here. … Being a head coach, that’s something if that’s to happen, it’ll take care of itself.”