Is Eric Bieniemy a worthy Commanders candidate?
With the exception of that note about coaching quarterbacks, Eric Bieniemy checks off every single box when looking for a new head coach.
When a team fires its coach, it almost always is looking for a change. A change in philosophy. A change in experience. A change in background.
Bieniemy is an offensive coach in contrast to the defensive-minded Ron Rivera. He is hyper-energetic compared to the laid-back current Washington Commanders man at the helm.
He comes from a winning pedigree. You could argue Rivera did as well, but there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in his record.
Rivera had twice as many losing seasons as winning ones with the Carolina Panthers. He will almost certainly leave the Commanders without a single winning campaign.
By contrast, in 10 years serving under Andy Reid with the Kansas City Chiefs - half as running backs coach and half as offensive coordinator - Bieniemy never coached a team with a losing record. He was part of two Super Bowl winners.
You can argue that was primarily due to Reid, but this doesn't change the pedigree.
Unless you are inside the locker room, it’s impossible to know what players truly feel about a coach. But every tea leave I can read suggests that Bieniemy’s relationship with the players is exactly what you would want.
They seem to genuinely respect him. And they also seem to fear him a little bit. I think they also mostly like him, but that isn’t as important as the first two things.
Bieniemy has pushed them hard and they have shown progress. Is it smart to abandon that just because there have been a few bumps in the road?
Here's why it may be. For the first time in 20-plus years, the Commanders have an attractive job on offer.
They are no longer saddled with a meddlesome, reviled owner. New ownership is eager to make a big splash and will no doubt move on all fronts - personnel, management, facilities - to improve things.
The Commanders will go into the 2024 off-season with draft picks galore and a good salary cap situation. They already have a potential franchise quarterback in place, and I am becoming increasingly convinced that another blue chipper like Bo Nix or Jayden Daniels will be in the fold next year.
Teams that fire coaches are typically not in very good shape. Washington has obvious problems to address, but it is in about as good a position as any such organization could be.
That means Josh Harris should have his pick of new coaches. He will not have to settle for longshot candidates or go begging questionable veterans to attempt a salvage operation by offering too much money and power. There will be plenty of enticing options available.
Bieniemy may not deserve the job at this point. But he certainly deserves to be one of those options.