The Washington Commanders introduced new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to the media Thursday. Bieniemy made his rounds with members of the local Washington media and the national media.
It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill press conference. How often do new coordinators get their own press conference? Well, it didn’t take long to see why the Commanders wanted to introduce Bieniemy to the fan base. Bieniemy came across as humble, confident, engaging, prepared and excited for this new chapter in his career.
Several things Bieniemy said were music to the ears of Washington fans. Remember GM Martin Mayhew’s comments on the run-to-pass ratio? Bieniemy said he’s going to do “whatever the hell it takes” to win.
We wanted to learn more about Bieniemy after he crushed his introductory press conference, so we reached out to Charles Goldman, managing editor of Chiefs Wire, for more insight. Charles has covered Bieniemy for years and is a big fan.
You can follow Charles on Twitter @goldmctNFL and Chiefs Wire @TheChiefsWire.
Tell us why Eric Bieniemy will succeed as Washington’s offensive coordinator.
I think the biggest thing – he’s going to help fix the culture in Washington. He’s big on accountability, and we all know there hasn’t been much of it in the Commanders building with Dan Snyder at the helm of the franchise. I think just having Bieniemy in the building working with the offense is going to impact the whole team. I mean, you already see guys showing up to his press conference talking about how they want to learn and win championships. I think that the respect that he demands already, not having been in the building a full day, gives you an idea of just how successful he can be.
Much has been made about Andy Reid calling plays, but how involved was Bieniemy in Kansas City’s offense, from calling plays to game-planning, etc?
I think no one realizes how much Andy Reid’s offense has become almost a democracy. I mean, there are plays that get found and put in by every coach and even some players. Most recently in Super Bowl LVII, Bieniemy was responsible for “corn dog” which is a play they stole from Jaguars’ win over the Eagles and used to score twice in the Super Bowl. As for calling plays, he’s on the headset with Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. He has input and actually relayed the calls to the huddle. It’s not like he’s just sitting on the sideline twiddling his thumbs during the course of the game. In terms of the general, day-to-day stuff, you can rest assured that Bieniemy is going to preach situational football. They’ll probably have days of practice dedicated to going over certain situations and specific install.
Can you pinpoint a reason why Bieniemy hasn’t landed a head coaching opportunity?
I think after his press conference on Thursday, everyone knows it’s not because he doesn’t interview well. I think it’s a complex issue with layers to it, with one of those problems being the NFL’s issue with team ownership and diversity. I suspect that another problem is the fact that he’s surrounded by a Hall of Fame head coach, a Hall of Fame tight end and a Hall of Fame quarterback. People simply don’t know how impactful Bieniemy has been because he’s overshadowed by these giants of professional football.
There was a notion by some that Reid was pushing Bieniemy out. Do you agree with that?
I don’t agree with that. I think if Bieniemy had decided he wanted to stay in Kansas City, they would have kept him. I truly believe that there was simply nothing left for Bieniemy to achieve with the Chiefs. Adding another AFC title game win or Super Bowl ring wasn’t going to help him achieve his goals. If he wasn’t going to get a head-coaching job, a change was necessary for him to go out and sort of have something to prove again.
What do you imagine an Eric Bieniemy offense will look like with the Commanders?
Patrick Mahomes isn’t walking through that door anytime soon, but he’s going to figure out what Sam Howell likes and is good at. Then, he’s going to figure out the best way to support that. In Washington, that’ll likely mean a heavy dose of the run game. I won’t be surprised if we see a lot of the same gadget plays and manufactured touches for receivers too. Bieniemy is not a big analytics or stats guy; I can tell you that right away. It’s not to say that he’ll ignore them, but he’s going to go with his gut on a lot of things. That’ll probably end up being a good thing and a bad thing at times.
Do you believe Bieniemy has “softened” his approach a bit since his first few years with the Chiefs?
Not in the slightest. Look, Bieniemy is going to be abrasive to some. There are sure to be some Shady McCoy’s in Washington who won’t mesh with his style. Fans are going to hear him yelling and cursing at training camp. He’s going to treat a first-round pick and an undrafted free agent the exact same way. But that urgency and push are what will make the team better from top to bottom. He’s nothing, if not a straight-shooter, who is going to be brutally honest with his players at times.
How will Chiefs fans remember Bieniemy?
As a two-time Super Bowl champion, who helped Patrick Mahomes become one of the greatest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. I’m not necessarily convinced we’ve seen the end of Bieniemy in Kansas City, though. It’s more of a so long for now, see you later type of situation in my eyes. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him back down the line, eventually filling the role that Andy Reid held. It might not be for some time, but I think he’s endeared himself such to the community and franchise that it wouldn’t be off the table.
Do you believe Greg Lewis follows Bieniemy, and in what role?
I think there’s a strong possibility, and I suspect that it would be a wide receivers coach / pass game coordinator type of role or possibly even quarterback coach. Lewis has been a wide receivers coach and running backs coach in Kansas City. He clearly has aspirations to become an offensive coordinator and head coach one day. Right now, with the Chiefs, his path to those roles is blocked by some other candidates.
Do you know any coaching connections outside of KC that Bieniemy could look to hire?
I’m not too familiar with all of the vacancies on the staff in Washington. If the team is in need of a running backs coach, Bieniemy could enlist someone like Natrone Means. He played with Bieniemy in San Diego and is currently working as an offensive analyst at North Carolina. There’s also Deland McCullough, who is currently the running backs coach at Notre Dame. He replaced Bieniemy as running backs coach in Kansas City when Eric Bieniemy was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2018.