NFL teams avoid Chiefs coordinator Eric Bieniemy and remain baffled


All positions for NFL head coaches are filled, but Eric Bieniemy faces a final audition to prove that he deserves the chance to become head coach in this league.

That comes in the Super Bowl 2020 when Bieniemy acts as an offensive coordinator for the Chiefs, who will compete against the 49ers on Sunday at the Lombardi Trophy in Miami.

Apparently, Bieniemy's resume wasn't good enough to fill one of the five openings that opened at the end of the 2019 regular season, despite all the successes the Chiefs have had in recent years. This seems a little unusual considering that the NFL is a copycat league, and hiring assistants, especially coordinators from successful teams, is the usual practice.

Maybe there weren't enough vacancies. Two teams took on proven head coaches, with Packers' former head coach Mike McCarthy joining the cowboys and Ron Rivera hired as the new Washington head coach after his release in Carolina. When the sought-after Baylor coach Matt Rhule closed a rich deal in Carolina, only two places remained. The Browns filled theirs with Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings' offensive coordinator.

The Giants interviewed Bieniemy, but eventually chose Joe Judge, a Patriots specialty coach, as the third head coach since 2017.

The judge was a surprising choice since he was only a coordinator or had a real duty with quarterbacks. Given the recent failure of Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur and the Giants to develop quarterback Daniel Jones, the judge's choice continues to be considered.

Eric Bieniemy
Eric BieniemyAP

Apparently the connection from Judge to Bill Belichick was enough to jump to the top of the giant list. Bieniemy's connection to Andy Reid has not brought him through a first interview so far.

Maybe that will change after this week. If it's a big week for the players, it's a big week for Bieniemy too. This is the week he can tell his story to the masses, and his players can talk about the impact he has had on their careers and this season. It's a week when Reid can dispel the idea that Bieniemy doesn't really have much to do with the crime. What happens this week could decide whether Bieniemy will be a serious head coaching candidate next year.

With no African American hired as head coach this year, the implications of the Rooney rule, which ensures that every franchisee interviews minority candidates for positions as head coach and senior operations, were discussed again. It remains necessary if not more than minority candidates to keep in front of those who make the hiring.

Bieniemy deserves a stronger look than he got. He was an offensive coordinator at his alma mater, the University of Colorado, before coaching the chiefs' running backs and becoming the offensive coordinator in 2018.

As an offensive coordinator, he helped develop one of the most productive offenses and one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league. He has also worked alongside one of the most successful coaches in NFL history.

In the past, being a Reid assistant was not a problem. The Ravens, Bills, Eagles and Bears currently have head coaches who acted as coordinators under Reid. The general criticism is that Reid mentioned the games, but neither Doug Pederson nor Matt Nagy named the games, and they became head coaches for the Eagles and Bears, respectively, after holding the title of an offensive coordinator under Reid.

"Play calling is always the problem," said Reid recently. "[Bieniemy] Called during the preseason and he helps me with all setups. The only reason I do it is that I like to do it. If that's the problem, it shouldn't be a problem. "

Should the Chiefs win the Super Bowl against a strong 49ers defense, Reid will receive plenty of recognition. But part of this earnings must go to Bieniemy for the next interview for a job as head coach. Big week for the players; great week for the coaches too.