Could reported growing friction between Washington Commanders players and Eric Bieniemy impact his chances of becoming a head coach in 2024?
Eric Bieniemy is a hard-nosed, old-school coach who demands nothing but the highest standards from his players. This is something everyone associated with the Washington Commanders should have been aware of before luring the respected figure from the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason.
But he gets results. And yet, talk of growing unrest among the players continues to build.
The Commanders' offense has improved in difficult circumstances this season. It's not perfect, but the lack of help defensively and the current personnel at Bieniemy's disposal means it's the best Washington can hope for right now.
Commanders players won't endorse Eric Bieniemy, per report
Complaining to Ron Rivera about Bieniemy's coaching methods during the offseason was just the start. There was also a recent revelation from John Keim of ESPN that hinted some players asked their head coach to take power back from the play-caller to no avail.
This has been denied by Rivera, but with so much smoke there is normally a fire. The latest speculation came from Grant Paulsen from 106.7 The Fan, who stated via USA Today Sports that the recommendations wouldn't be glowing for Bieniemy to become head coach if Josh Harris' ownership group asked for player input.
"I continue to hear that if this is up to the players, if they are counseled in any way by this ownership group, there will not be glowing endorsements by and large for Eric Bieniemy, from the guys on offense. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Bieniemy has done a pretty good job. I do. It doesn’t mean I don’t think Bieniemy has done an outstanding job developing Sam Howell. I do. I’m not sure his style works in today’s NFL as we think it might. I just continue to hear from people in and around the building that the players that are working under Bieniemy aren’t necessarily advocating for or standing on the table for him to become the guy."- Grant Paulsen via USA Today Sports
There will be multiple head coaching jobs available around the league for Bieniemy if the Commanders go in a different direction. Considering he's been unsuccessful in countless interviews previously, it remains to be seen whether someone will take the plunge this time around.
These reports won't be going unnoticed by other NFL owners. However, one also has to question the motives and character within the Commanders' locker room, which appears soft to the core if these reports are accurate.
Bieniemy's work with quarterback Sam Howell should be applauded. The former fifth-round pick's been nothing but complimentary about his offensive coordinator, but it seems as if this opinion isn't shared by everybody.
In truth, this says a lot more about the mentality of the players than anything Bieniemy is doing. The likes of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce had no problem with his methods, so it's another big reason why this roster needs gutting from top to bottom.
What this means for Bieniemy is anyone's guess. He'll likely get an interview once Rivera is dismissed, but Harris might also decide on a complete reset when push comes to shove.
It's a tough spot for Bieniemy right now. He'll hear all the chatter about player unhappiness, so why shouldn't he be tough on them if increased expectations aren't being met?
He knows what it takes to win Super Bowls. Something the Commanders are a million miles away from currently.
The modern-day player is entitled, pampered, and in some cases unwilling to put in the hard yards. That's the primary reason coaches like Bieniemy are a dying breed.
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