After profiling 10 head coaching candidates before Dan Quinn & Thomas Dimitroff were even relieved of their duties, I decided to take a few guys I liked and break them down individually. I’ll be making this a series, so I figured I’d start with the most obvious and hottest name around — Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Chase gave us a good piece on Bieniemy’s “Elevator Speech.” I recommend checking it out, I’m not very much into the rah-rah coach speak after the whole “brotherhood” thing, but I really believe Bieniemy could get these players to buy-in. This video shows potentially the most enticing thing about EB — absolutely laying into his offense after starting off stagnant in the 2nd half, even with a lead against the Baltimore Ravens. He clearly commands respect, and he has a Super Bowl ring on his finger to show for it. How did Bieniemy get here? I was hot on his heels LAST season before Arthur Blank mistakenly gave this regime another chance.
Bieniemy was actually a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1990 during the peak of Colorado Football. He ran for over 1,600 yards and 17 TDs during his senior season and was a 2nd round pick, but he didn’t have a spectacular NFL playing career.
EB got his start coaching at his Alma Mater as a running backs coach for the Buffs from 2000-2001. He bounced around some college jobs before taking the position as the Minnesota Vikings RB coach from 2006-2010. Just like now in Kansas City, he had an exceptional talent to work with — possibly the greatest RB of this generation in Adrian Peterson. Bieniemy then returned to Colorado from 2011-2012 to work as their offensive coordinator. The Buffs were absolutely terrible during his time, and the entire staff was relieved of their duties. That firing turned out to be one of the best things that could have ever happened to him, however.
It can’t be easy to be fired by your school, but Bieniemy became the running backs coach for the lowly 2012 Kansas City Chiefs. After a 2-14 finish, Andy Reid was named the new head coach. Expectations were mile high (pun intended) after their rival Denver Broncos went 13-3 with soon to be MVP Peyton Manning. The Chiefs did manage to go 11-5 that season, and while things were looking up, they had a massive hump to get over.
Once again, Bieniemy had an exceptional talent to work with in Jamaal Charles. His rushing numbers were down, but he still earned a Pro Bowl nod after running for 1,287 yards and 12 scores. Injuries held Charles back, but even when he was injured — Bieniemy & Reid had guys like Knile Davis, Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, and Kareem Hunt at their best. Bieniemy has always been a running backs guy, but something amazing happened when he took over as offensive coordinator.
He helped revolutionize the NFL.
After 2017, Bieniemy was promoted to offensive coordinator to replace Chicago Bears HC Matt Nagy. In the 2018 season, the Chiefs led the NFL in points and yards per game, scoring the third-most points in NFL History while Patrick Mahomes established himself as the best quarterback in the NFL on his way to the MVP award. He became the 2nd QB (alongside the aforementioned Manning) to throw for 50 TDs and 5,000 Yards in NFL history… at 23 years old.
There’s no doubt Andy Reid‘s fingerprints are all over this team, but Bieniemy deserves his share of the credit. They’ve set a blueprint for a gadget “burner” WR in the mold of Tyreek Hill, and the already elite Travis Kelce has been moved around like a chess piece that is almost impossible to cover. Guys like Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson have transformed from college vertical burners to smooth route runners and threats in the run game. Sammy Watkins finally realized his full potential after loads of inconsistency. All of these ingredients — even with an average defense — resulted in a Super Bowl against Kyle Shanahan‘s mighty 49ers.
The RB whisperer took a Miami Dolphins castaway, Damien Williams, and rode him for over 100 yards in that game. 2020 has been more of the same for the Chiefs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is outstanding as a rookie… and Le’Veon Bell will be in the fold soon. It will be fascinating to see how EB utilizes him. I still think the Chiefs are the team to beat, and even though they have shown signs of a hangover — they have dominated 2019 playoff teams like the Bills, Ravens, and Patriots.
No matter what happens the rest of the way for the Falcons, the fact that Bieniemy has created innovative run schemes for running backs & receivers, has creative route concepts, and elevates his QB should be appealing to any Falcons fan. Matt Ryan is coming into his twilight years, and drafting one of the big three quarterbacks for Bieniemy and Ryan to mold would be very exciting for the future. Even if Atlanta holds with the current roster and adds to the defense, I think EB can get much more out of this team than the current staff.
It would be very interesting if the new regime decided to draft a Jaylen Waddle or buy low on John Ross or even Taylor Gabriel to get EB another Tyreek Hill. Bieniemy can play with speed, and having an athlete like Hayden Hurst at tight end should work in his offense. This RB class is pretty strong, and I wouldn’t be shocked if EB was aggressive in moving up for Travis Etienne, Kylin Hill, Najee Harris, or Chuba Hubbard to get back to establishing the run in Atlanta.
Eric Bieniemy may not be perfect, and Andy Reid is undoubtedly a big part of his success. However, I think he’s the ideal coach to take the keys to this McLaren of an offense and get Atlanta back to playing winning football. He isn’t the only candidate — this is a multi-part series — but I think he is the best candidate.