Sometimes, the stars align for a franchise and their next head coach.
The Bengals, who are notorious for lacking trust in players and coaches unfamiliar with the organization, need a new head coach. It just so happens that one of the hottest candidate out there, Eric Bieniemy, is very familiar with Mike Brown’s franchise.
Along with the Bengals, Bieniemy has garnered plenty of interest from other teams in need of a new head coach. So let’s look at who Bieniemy is and how he’d fit with Cincinnati.
Bieniemy is the offensive coordinator of the most exciting and dynamic offense in the NFL. The Chiefs have made great use of their talent this season getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers like wide receiver Tyreek Hill in creative ways and allowing first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes to shine.
- 1991-1999: San Diego Chargers/Cincinnati Bengals/Philadelphia Eagles (Running Back)
- 2001-2002: University of Colorado (RB Coach)
- 2003-2005: UCLA (RB Coach)
- 2006-2009: Minnesota Vikings (RB Coach)
- 2010: Minnesota Vikings (Assistant Head Coach of the Offense)
- 2011-2012: University of Colorado (Offensive Coordinator)
- 2013-2017: Kansas City Chiefs (RB Coach)
- 2018-present: Kansas City Chiefs (Offensive Coordinator)
Why he could work
Bieniemy is a 9-year NFL veteran who spent 4 seasons with the Bengals in the mid-90s. This familiarity may make Mike Brown more comfortable with hiring him. It also means that Bieniemy has seen the Brown and Bengals at their worst. He knows how difficult the owner can be to deal with and what has gone wrong in the past.
Following his playing career, he returned to his alma mater (Colorado) as the school’s running backs coach and later held the same position at UCLA. His first stint as an NFL coach came in Minnesota, where he spent five years as the Vikings running backs coach and was promoted to assistant head coach for offense in his last season.
He then returned to college as offensive coordinator at Colorado for two seasons giving him his first coordinating experience.
He returned to the NFL as running backs coach for the Chiefs. Coaching under Andy Reid gave Bieniemy access to one of the greatest offensive minds in football. The Reid coaching tree is of course an extension of the Bill Walsh coaching tree. Reid’s most recent offensive coordinators Matt Nagy and Doug Pederson have gone on to great success quickly turning around the Bears and Eagles franchises respectively.
The Chiefs fielded the most exciting offense in the NFL in 2018 and they are the golden standard of maximizing personnel. They knew how to got the ball in the hands of their best players in positions where they could gain additional yardage. They also understood how to get the most out of role players when teams would scheme to take away their stars. All of this came in Bieniemy’s first season as the coordinator and with a first-year starter at quarterback.
Why he may not be the guy
Bieniemy is an offensive coordinator who coached an incredible offense in 2018 and helped turn a first-year starting quarterback into a star, but he raises some concerns. First, it is great that he worked under an offensive mastermind like Reid, but it also brings into question what his involvement was compared to Reid. Essentially, how much credit does he deserve?
This is somewhat mitigated by the success of Nagy and Pederson. Unlike this duo, Bieniemy did not coach the quarterback. This may be detrimental as the Bengals could be looking to draft and develop a young quarterback in the near future.
There’s also Bieniemy’s questionable past that has to at least be considered.
Bieniemy should be the hottest name out there. He has years of NFL playing experience as well as NFL and college coaching experience. He comes from the Reid coaching tree, which has been very successful lately and employs an innovative and exciting offense. The Chiefs offense gives a great example of how the Bengals should use their talented offensive players like John Ross and Joe Mixon. The Bengals need a coach like Bieniemy who will make the best use of their personnel.