Falcons: The pros and cons of Eric Bieniemy as a Head Coach

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If you missed the report that Blank was focusing on Eric Bieniemy and John Dorsey as a Head Coach/General Manager pairing, check that out here. I also listed the pros and cons of having Dorsey as the next GM here. Bieniemy is the most mentioned name surrounding the Falcons coaching search, so let’s break down what he brings to the table. Mostly I’ll be focusing on what Atlanta should think about Bieniemy, not vice versa. From my coaching profile on EB:

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 DavisCharcandrick WestSpencer 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. 

One last plug before I start, Alex answered some potential questions regarding why Bieniemy may not be a head coach just yet.

 

Pros:

 

Championship Pedigree & Culture Change

It’s clear Bieniemy is respected around the league and by his players. He’s a leader of men and commands attention when he speaks. Not only is EB a presence on the field, I believe he’ll make a big impact off the field in a way that guys like Ron Rivera do. Having a coach who’s a former player, respected, and has the jewelry to back it up can go a long way in changing the culture in a city that badly needs it.

 

Kansas City’s Success

Speaking of that hardware, Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs offense truly exploded after Bieniemy took over as OC. Much of that can be credited to Andy Reid (more on that later) but Bieniemy has been with Andy since 2013. Kansas City has had a really good offense for a while, but he was the man at OC when the offense really started shattering records.

 

Success With Running Backs

Guys like Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Kareem Hunt, and Knile Davis made a name for themselves in the NFL with Bieniemy as their running backs coach. Bieniemy gets a lot out of late-round picks and the running back position. Atlanta was at their best with two quality running backs, and both were day 2 or 3 picks.

 

Cons:

 

Andy Reid’s Previous Coaching Tree

Reid’s tree isn’t bad… until you focus on the OCs that have been hired under his watch. Notably, Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl. Other than him, Matt Nagy… Pat Shurmur… gross. Pederson may actually be close to losing his job, but if EB delivers ONE Super Bowl to Atlanta — he’d be the best coach in team history. Previous failures should not discourage the Falcons from hiring Bieniemy.

 

Andy Reid calls the plays

This is the biggest argument against hiring EB. Yes, Andy Reid is the play-caller — even though Bieniemy is the OC. This is a pretty substantial strike against Bieniemy, but again, I think he’s one of the best options available and hopefully, he’s picked up a thing or two from a legend.

 

Defensive Identity? 

It’s a pretty weak con but Bieniemy doesn’t have too many. EB is obviously an offensive coordinator, and those Colorado teams he coached bled points. I’m not sure if it’s a big deal considering that’s you know… a defensive coordinator’s job, but it’s important to note with an Atlanta defense that’s been bad for a while.

 

 

 

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