Eric Bieniemy Has Been Kicked Out of Line for the NFL’s Head-Coaching Carousel

Eric Biniemi was undoubtedly one of the stars of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII victory. Yes, it might seem easy to be the offensive coordinator for future Hall of Famer QB Patrick Mahomes, future Hall of Famer tight end Travis Kelsey, and future Hall of Famer head coach Andy Reid, who calls offensive games for Kansas City. But these legends and other members of the champion Chiefs were quick to point out how Bienemi contributed to their second Super Bowl championship. In particular, it was Bienemi who identified a flaw in Philadelphia’s defensive tendencies that led to the Chiefs’ two touchdowns in their second-half comeback: backup quarterback Chad Henn. said Athletic what Binemi noticed The Eagles seemed so nervous about the idea of ​​the Chiefs launching a jet sweep near the goal line that they committed themselves to stopping it. So, the Chiefs scored two easy touchdowns on fake jets as they roared back from a double-digit deficit to win the title:

Mahomes praised Bienemi for Jerick McKinnon knowing how to slide just outside the end zone late in the fourth quarter, allowing the Chiefs to almost run out of time before scoring the game-winning field goal: “Though sometimes we get tired of them.” Speaking of these moments, it seems like they always happen in the biggest games.” Mahomes said. “He makes sure we study them in detail every week.” After the Mahomes game called Bienemi “one of a kind, one of the greatest”, and Reid called him “phenomenal” and “terrific in the long run”.

But once again, their raucous praise was not enough to get Bienemi the head coach job. None of the five teams with the head coach position chose Bienemi. In fact, he wasn’t even taken seriously. Only the Colts scheduled an interview with him, and he was reportedly not one of the seven finalists who made it to the second round of interviews with Indianapolis. The Broncos, Panthers, and Texans apparently didn’t need to interview Bienemi at all because they were already interviewing him in the process of hiring already fired coaches.

Bienemi has effectively dropped out of the NFL coaching carousel. The former All-American running back in Colorado was named offensive coordinator for Kansas City in 2018, the year Patrick Mahomes first began his career as a quarterback and began ruining the NFL. Every off-season from 2019 to 2022, Bienemi has been interviewed by at least two NFL teams. In 2021 six out of seven franchises with head coach vacancies Bienemi attracted. It seemed inevitable that sooner or later he would be called. But this year, after the Chiefs led the NFL in points per game and yards per game, after they reinvented their offense after trading Tyreke Hill (WHO Also praises Bienemi, by the way), and after they won the Super Bowl with 38 points on strong defense, he was passed again. Two teams still had coaching vacancies for Sunday’s Super Bowl; By Tuesday, they were filled with two coordinators who lost to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. (Imagine watching the Chiefs score two touchdowns against the Eagles and thinking: Dude, I should hire the guy who didn’t set up this protection.and not, Dude, I should hire the guy who planned this crime.but that’s exactly what the Cardinals just did when they chose Jonathan Gannon.)

During this phase of his career, Bienemi was interviewed 16 times for head coach positions across 15 NFL franchises. USA todaydata. (The Jets have interviewed him twice.) Whatever process these teams use to select coaches other than Biniemi, it doesn’t work: Only three of the 16 coaches (Bruce Arians, Brandon Staley and Zach Taylor) chosen to replace Biniemi since 2019, advanced to the playoffs. , and seven (Adam Geise, Urban Meyer, Nathaniel Hackett, David Callie, Brian Flores, Joe Judge and Matt Rule) were fired. You may notice that some of the coaches hired to replace Bienemi are on the list of the worst hires in NFL history.

Being the team’s offensive coordinator in the Super Bowl is usually a pretty good way to get a job as an NFL head coach. Of the last nine Super Bowl head coaches other than Bienemi—both winners and losers—five are now NFL head coaches. (Brian Callahan is still the head coach of the Bengals; Byron Leftwich has since been fired by the Buccaneers.) We could also include Zach Taylor, who got a job with the Bengals after being a QB coach. at the Rams in 2018. But Bienemi has been a head coach in three Super Bowls in four years, won two rings and is still not a head coach.

A common argument against hiring Binemi is that his success is just Reid’s product. Usually it is enough for a coordinator to simply be in the presence of a genius coach for a long period of time to get a job as a head coach – if the genius likes this guy, he is probably good, and perhaps some of his genius is erased. That’s why we saw 11 of Bill Belichick’s assistants become head coaches, even those who weren’t invited to the game and had nothing on their resumes other than working for the Patriots legend. Heck, we’ve even seen four of Sean McVeigh’s top assistants become head coaches. And that wasn’t much of a problem in hiring Binemi’s predecessors, former Chiefs offensive coordinators Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy. Both were hired as head coaches after working with Reed, although they were not major players; with his new teams, Nagy became NFL Coach of the Year and Pederson won the Super Bowl (although both were eventually fired). (Another Reid protégé, Mike Kafka, was a hot head coach candidate this year, interviewing for four of the five open positions. Kafka is currently the head coach of the Giants, but he previously worked under Reid and Bienemi as a QB coach. Chiefs, meaning that Bienemi was outranked in the coaching candidate hierarchy by his former subordinate.)

The reality is that teams hire offensive assistants who don’t schedule games too often! Nick Sirianni wasn’t called to play for the Colts when he was hired by the Eagles, and Taylor and Kevin O’Connell weren’t called to play for the Rams by McVeigh, and those hires worked out well for the Bengals and Vikings, respectively. And when the Eagles hired Reid back in 1999, he had never named a play before. (Hackett wasn’t called to play for the Packers when the Broncos hired him, but he handled his interview.)

Rumor has it that Binemi is a bad interviewer, whatever that means. It doesn’t matter that he tried to prepare for interviews in the midst of the Super Bowl runs or that he clearly beat all the Chiefs players who played for him, his inability to win in front-office suits obviously outweighs him on the field. success. Presumably, league owners may also have some concerns about Binemi’s 2001 arrest for drunk driving, his 1993 arrest on suspicion of harassing and assaulting a valet who worked at a Colorado football game, and the arrest of a college sophomore for fighting. in the bar. These are real red flags, but it seems odd that these years of delinquency have caused many NFL owners to finally draw a moral line in the sand.

Bienemi is now interviewing other teams to become their offensive coordinator – presumably so he can stage the game and show that he can succeed without Reid and Mahomes. On Thursday, he spoke with the commanders. there is reportedly a “mutual interest“. To be clear, these lateral moves are exceedingly rare: The last time an NFL offensive coordinator moved from one head coaching position to another without being fired, or their head coach didn’t change jobs, was in 2018, five offseasons ago, when Matt LaFleur left the Rams for the Titans, where he was assigned to play. That this is happening to a two-time Super Bowl champion days after he won the title is almost unbelievable. Bienemi has achieved a lot as offensive coordinator, but he is still being asked to prove he can win without Reid, although Reid’s past offensive coordinators were not asked to do the same. And if he takes a job in Washington and fails to renew the Commanders, which finished 24th in scoring last year, led by an aging, turnover-prone Carson Wentz, the NFL will take that as proof that he all this time was not good.

In the absence of legitimate sounding reasons, Bienemi is the only successful assistant coach who hasn’t gotten a top job, you have to wonder if Bienemi is held to higher standards because of his race. Only two of the 16 jobs Binemi interviewed for went to other black coaches, and one of them, Brian Flores, is now pursuing an active lawsuit against the NFL, accusing the league of racial discrimination. Decades of data show Black head coaches are hired less often and fired faster. A league may have policies to encourage diversity when hiring coaches and general managers, but those decisions are ultimately made by the NFL’s owners, and there were never blacks. (Besides, maybe we should call them “governors” or “members” instead of owners? The NFL doesn’t want that to sound… well, you know.)

Being included in so many coaching searches, Bienyomi should be a sign that he has landed opportunities in the league’s supposed meritocracy. Now, years of fake inclusion and interviews that have come to nothing have effectively eliminated him from the head coaching market. The fact that so many teams had turned down Bienemi was self-evident proof that he must have been a bad candidate, even as he continued to shine with the Chiefs and the coaches hired to replace him failed. (Again: Adam Geis, Urban Meyer, Nathaniel Hackett and Joe Judge were chosen to replace him.) Almost half the league decided to ignore Bienemi.,


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