Have Eric Bieniemy's head coaching chances gone for good after an indifferent first season as Washington Commanders' offensive coordinator?
Eric Bieniemy took a big leap of faith last year by leaving the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs for the Washington Commanders. The chance to run an NFL offense and acquire responsibilities in keeping with head coaches around the league sold him on taking the plunge. Something many believed would be the final stepping stone toward a long-awaited promotion to one of the top jobs.
Judging by the lack of interest despite plenty of vacancies league-wide, Bieniemy's year in Washington wasn't perceived in the best light. And now, his head coaching chances might be gone for good.
Bieniemy reportedly rubbed some players the wrong way with his high demands and tough-nosed approach. There was a clear unwillingness to alter his methods - ones that had been so successful throughout his coaching career. More importantly, the Commanders' offense lacked balance and stuttered - especially over the second half of 2023.
Eric Bieniemy's head coaching window is rapidly closing
Just one interview came to Bieniemy's door. This was a courtesy meeting from the Commanders. Nothing has materialized following as the team hones in on other targets, with Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson in strong contention to replace Ron Rivera.
Bieniemy bet on himself by joining the Commanders. It didn't pay off.
What the future holds for the experienced figure remains to be seen. It's unlikely he'll be retained if an offensive-minded coach gets the position. The need for a fresh start is glaring, but Bieniemy could get another gig somewhere else as a coordinator or maybe even back to a position coach looking at how things stand around the NFL.
This is bitterly disappointing for Bieniemy and those who've fiercely defended him over recent years. Many felt he was harshly overlooked for opportunities when his stock was highest. The Chiefs were a juggernaut from the moment he arrived to work alongside Andy Reid. In hindsight, the presence of such a charismatic head coach overseeing the offensive schematics went against him.
The Commanders couldn't afford to have any sentiment in their hiring process led by majority ownership partner Josh Harris. Adopting a hard reset was a foregone conclusion from a long way out as the Commanders' regular season spiraled out of control. Bieniemy probably did a good job of laying out his plans for the franchise, but it was never going to be a realistic avenue to pursue when looking at the rich pool of available candidates.
That's another thing. Even the likes of Mike Vrabel, Pete Carroll, and the legendary Bill Belichick have been overlooked. The league is shifting towards the young and innovative. Considering Bieniemy is also considered an old-school coach in his methods, it's not hard to see why the window might be closing.
If Bieniemy hadn't put too much pressure on first-year starting quarterback Sam Howell. If he'd shown some adaptation rather than being stuck in his ways. If things had gone better with the Commanders, the interview requests would have followed in abundance. Instead, it's a long road back to consideration.
That might sound a little harsh after everything Bieniemy's accomplished and the esteem in which he's held by most players who've worked closely with him. But this is a ruthless business.