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Eric Bieniemy is ready to be a Head Coach - The Athletic


Goober Pyle
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REALLY good read on **cough, cough** a potential head coach candidate.....if we ever fire DQ  :rolleyes:

 

by Dan Pompei for The Athletic

 

Wet, windy and nasty, the day was gray in the Sea of Red.

Seventh-ranked Colorado needed to upset second-ranked Nebraska for a shot at the 1990 national championship.

In the first half, Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy, the nation’s leading rusher, fumbled.

Then he fumbled again.

Another time.

And then a fourth time.

At halftime, the coaches gave the kinds of speeches a thousand coaches have given before. The players looked at the floor and nodded without really listening.

And then Bieniemy stood. You could hear a football drop.

“I screwed up,” he said forcefully. “It will not happen again. Put it on my shoulders.”

After trailing 12-0, that’s what Colorado did, giving Bieniemy 19 second-half carries.

Bieniemy rushed for 116 yards and four touchdowns in the second half against a defense that had allowed one touchdown run in eight previous games. The Buffs won 27-12.

About one month later, Bieniemy finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy behind Ty Detmer and Raghib “Rocket” Ismail. And a month after that, Colorado beat Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl to claim the only football national championship in its history.

Twenty-three years down the road, Bieniemy was a running backs coach in his first season with the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles was a two-time All-Pro running back at the height of his abilities.

Charles fumbled against the Texans. Once Charles walked to the sideline, Bieniemy was waiting for him on the field, near the numbers, a place where assistant coaches are not supposed to tread.

Bieniemy: “You lose another fumble, you’re not going back in.”

Charles: “I’m an All-Pro. What do you mean I ain’t goin’ back in?”

Bieniemy: “Fumble again, and you will see.”

Bieniemy’s will became Charles’ will, and Charles didn’t lose another fumble in his next 261 touches over 14 games.

That will has been the force behind many accomplishments.

But even Bieniemy’s exceptional will hasn’t been enough to make him an NFL head coach. Bieniemy, the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator since 2018, has interviewed for seven head-coaching jobs — the Browns, Giants, and Panthers this year, and the Buccaneers, Jets, Dolphins and Bengals in previous years.

You might say some of those teams fumbled in not hiring him.

It’s hardly ever about the fumble, though. It’s about what happens after the fumble.


The man who was interviewed seven times without being offered a head-coaching job pays attention to things others don’t.

As the Chiefs prepared to play the Texans in the season opener on Sept. 10, logic said the Texans would defend mostly with man-to-man coverage. But Bieniemy made sure his quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, was as prepared for Cover 2, Cover 3 and every other possibility, according to Mahomes. As it turned out, the Texans played a lot of zone and Mahomes was ready.

It was a significant factor in their 34-20 victory. “When you get things besides what you see on tape, but you have answers for everything, you still can go out there and have success,” Mahomes says.

“Details. It’s all about details with him,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid says of Bieniemy.

“The biggest thing with ‘EB’ is how detailed he is,” Mahomes says.

“Details?” his former boss Brad Childress says. “He would tell you about the left tackle’s right foot.”

“I didn’t even know how to spell details until Coach EB got with me at age 25,” Charles says. “He taught me so much about details. Now I’m detailed in my life every day because of it.”

Mahomes says Bieniemy is as detailed in his approach to preseason games as he is postseason games.

Bieniemy isn’t the quarterbacks coach. That’s Mike Kafka. But Bieniemy meets with the Chiefs’ quarterbacks every day during the week, he communicates the plays to Mahomes from the sidelines and he confers with him between series. Bieniemy also is in charge of the Chiefs’ protection plans, which require significant collaboration with the quarterback.

“I think that’s where people get lost,” Mahomes says. “They think because he wasn’t a quarterbacks coach, he’s not in the meetings with me. He’s very involved. He’s game planning. He’s putting in plays. He’s telling me why we want these plays versus these looks.”

For Bieniemy, working with Mahomes is, of course, a blast.

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Bieniemy laughs like that a lot.

“Patrick is a come-early, stay-late guy,” he says. “He wants to know the whats, the whys, the hows. He wants to know everything about the game plan that’s going to help him be the best he can be. He wants to know everything about the opponent.”

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Mahomes could be a head coach maker. Of course, Reid already is one, and 10 of his assistants have been hired as one, including his last two offensive coordinators, Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy.

For Bieniemy, there is the blessing of working for Reid, and there is the curse of working for Reid.

The blessing is learning from one of the most influential and successful coaches in the game. The curse is whatever offensive success the Chiefs have usually results in roses at the feet of Reid, and only at the feet of Reid.

The Chiefs’ head coach has been effusive in his praise of Bieniemy. He says not many coaches lead and hold players accountable better than Bieniemy does.

Reid pushes back against the notion that Bieniemy is a glorified running backs coach. “He’s somebody who started in the box, but has gotten out of the box, like me,” Reid says. “I was a line coach, he was a running back coach, and both of us have had to learn everything about everything. Football-wise, he can coach anything right now and be pretty comfortable with it.”

Bieniemy technically is not the play caller, but he calls plays in every game, according to Reid. “I just say, ‘Hey, what do you like here?’” Reid says. “And let him take it and go. We bounce it off each other.”

Bieniemy called plays for two years when he was Colorado’s offensive coordinator, so he has some background as a play caller. “Everybody likes to make a big deal out of it,” he says. “That’s OK. That’s the way Coach Reid does it. I know when I become a head coach, ****, I’m going to call my plays as well. The people that love to make a big deal out of that, they’re not having the fun I’m having.”

As Bieniemy has spent more and more time with Reid, his offensive philosophies have become more like his. Because Bieniemy was a running back, it’s convenient to stereotype him as a ground-and-pound kind of guy. But now he likes to fling it around.

“I might be the biggest sellout as far as running back coaches,” he says.

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

“There’s something about this pass game and getting the ball downfield as quickly as you can,” he says. “Do I have my own philosophy? Yes. Are there some things I’m going to take from this particular offense? Yes. I have an opportunity to work with a coach who has a brilliant mind, a very creative mind. He has helped me to become more flexible in the way I see things and the way you can run an offense and a team. You want to take a lot of that with you. But you also want to make sure you are doing what is best for that particular team. Not everybody is built the same, so you want to make sure that whatever team you take over, that you can help build the system that is going to work for them.”


The man who was interviewed seven times without being offered a head-coaching job has passion the way a volcano has lava.

His voice is loud, deep and powerful, and impossible to ignore.

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Bieniemy recalls losing the bowl game in a youth football league at Hunter’s Field in New Orleans. When he thinks about it, the uneasiness, and the churning of the innards, come back.

His will is a reflection of his mother’s. Fern St. Cyr did whatever was necessary to keep the lights on and Bieniemy and his brother Jamal smiling. That meant working from before the sun rose until after it set and taking multiple jobs in factories and offices.

At Colorado, Bieniemy was a starter from the beginning, and he impressed with his blocking, among other things.

“A raging inferno on the field,” former Colorado offensive line coach Mike Barry once called him.

“I call him a crazy competitor, very emotional,” former Colorado offensive coordinator Gerry DiNardo says. “He was totally into every practice and every game, never a down day on the field. There are certain people who are wired to be 100 miles an hour every day, every practice and every game. He was like that. You can be wired, though, and not conceptually understand things. Understanding the game was one of his great traits.”

Some running backs dance after 7-yard gains. Bieniemy was livid after them, according to the recollection of former Colorado center Jay Leeuwenburg.

“I can’t believe they tackled me,” Bieniemy would say, steaming.

At times, Buffs coach Bill McCartney presided over live scrimmages with up to 15 consecutive inside running drills, power against power. They were the kind of practices that made some players report to the athletic trainer’s room rather than the field, limping when others could see them.

Coaches would tell Bieniemy to come out during the drills and he would wave them off. “I’m taking every snap,” he would say.

Bieniemy expected others to match his intensity. Former teammates still tell stories about how Bieniemy berated his defense after three quarters of a 1990 game against Texas. “I had not seen an offensive guy get in the middle of a defensive huddle and challenge a defense like that,” Leeuwenburg says. “That was a memorable moment. And it made a difference.”

Time has not made Bieniemy any less demanding.

When he was an assistant for the Vikings, Bieniemy’s individual period was intense, according to Childress. “He’s grinding those guys, cones, ropes, bags,” Childress says. “He had them moving, constantly moving. He wanted to make sure they were lathered up by the time we got to that first install period.”

When the Vikings signed Chester Taylor as a free agent in 2006, Taylor was not accustomed to practicing hard on Wednesdays after a full workload the previous Sunday and thought his veteran status would afford him recovery time. Bieniemy, however, would not tolerate his starting halfback standing around with his hands in his pockets while others were grinding.

It wasn’t long before Bieniemy and Taylor were nose to nose and Childress was physically separating them.

Taylor: “He can’t talk to me like that!”

Childress: “That’s EB. He talks to everybody like that.”

Bieniemy was not discriminating. Said Childress, “He treated them all the same — ****ty, but with love.”

Charles can relate. In his early days with Bieniemy, he didn’t know how to respond to him. “We were bumping heads every time, bustin’ it, yelling, going back and forth,” he says. “We were about to fight every time. Every time we communicated, it wasn’t good.”

Charles sought the counsel of Taylor, Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew, and found out each had a similar experience with Bieniemy. “Eventually, I realized it was all coming out of love, trying to make me better,” Charles says.

Bieniemy may have the ideal approach for a team defending a championship. “When you have success sometimes you come into work thinking you can just go through the motions, but he’s not going to let you do that,” Mahomes says. “He’s going to make sure he gets the best out of you every single day.”

Bieniemy impacts Mahomes in a way few offensive coordinators could. “Not that Pat doesn’t have the grit and determination, but he has a constant reminder there that you have to be a tough son of a gun to play this sport,” Reid says.

The always-composed Reid has influenced Bieniemy, helping him keep his flame at a simmer. Most of the time.

“I’m actually better, believe it or not, with not showing it as much,” Bieniemy says. “But it still tears me up inside. If you are going to do something, you might as well do it wholeheartedly. We work too god**** hard and put too much time, effort and energy into what we do, so we might as well reap the rewards. I want our guys to know that every moment you have is a defining moment. It’s a defining moment. It’s about living in the now and maximizing what you have today.”

Bieniemy does not ask his players to do something he would not have done. A second-round pick of the Chargers in 1991, Bieniemy lasted nine years in the NFL mostly by being the kind of backup every coach wants. He was a four-phase special-teams player and complementary running back on the Chargers, Bengals and Eagles.

In Bieniemy’s final season with the Eagles, Childress once found Bieniemy in the hot tub at 6:45 a.m., trying to get loose for practice two hours later. Childress, an assistant, says Bieniemy consistently was on the field an hour before practice started to get his body right.

“I’ll always remember that — he did whatever it took,” Childress says. “You could never stump him. He was always in his book even though he was second or third on the depth chart. He was always standing at the ready, always prepared.”

The game program said Bieniemy stands 5-foot-7; the mirror says 6-foot-2. He acknowledges he might have a short man complex.

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

“I was made perfect because I’ve always been competitive,” he says. “The thing I may have lacked in height, you couldn’t take the fire or energy. I didn’t believe anyone could outperform me because they were a certain height or certain weight. I always felt if given an opportunity to compete, you won’t outwork me or outshine me.”


The man who was interviewed seven times without being offered a head-coaching job has a smile so bright, it puts a Temptations song in your head.

The smile is a window to something he doesn’t often show in NFL stadiums.

Charles left Kansas City after the 2016 season, but he and Bieniemy remain close.

Bieniemy often hosted Charles and other players for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. They ate, watched football, played dominos and shot pool. “It was like he had two different personalities,” Charles says. “We basically are family at the end of the day. He looks at me like I’m a son.”

Bieniemy and his wife of 26 years, Mia, have two sons. When Bieniemy has time off, he wakes everyone early so the four can have more time together. He has to check himself, he says, so he isn’t overbearing with activity planning.

Elijah is 21, and to no one’s surprise, he and his dad love to compete with one another. Neither shows mercy in Scrabble, Uno or checkers.

And then there’s Madden. They used to play the video game frequently, but Bieniemy backed away because Elijah had become so adept at it. When everyone was confined to the house in the offseason, they decided to play again.

“That first game, I got after him,” Bieniemy says. “Noise is being talked. My wife is upstairs. ‘Is everything alright?’ Beat him so bad I had to take a picture of it.”

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Elijah got his revenge recently, reclaiming the Madden crown.

“He got after me, and now he lets me know it,” Bieniemy says.

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Their other son is Eric III. Five days after Eric III was born, he had a seizure. The Bieniemys rushed him to one hospital, then to another. He was given a double blood transfusion.

Then came the uncomfortable conversation with the doctor.

“Mr. and Mrs. Bieniemy, Eric has cerebral palsy.”

In the next five years, the Bieniemys spent more time in hospitals than their homes.

Eric III is 25 now, wheelchair-bound and reliant on his parents for all of his needs. He doesn’t communicate, but his family understands him just fine. Over time, they moved with him from San Diego to Cincinnati to Philadelphia to Boulder to Los Angeles to Minneapolis, back to Boulder, and to Kansas City.

Eric III can’t play games with his father and brother, but he wants to be a part of the action. When he feels good, the family feels good.

“He’s the man,” his father says. “He’s the man.”

No one and nothing makes dad’s smile brighter.

Bieniemy loves Mia more for the way she loves Eric III. She is his primary caretaker and a “saint,” in the estimation of her husband.

Bieniemy and his wife haven’t had a vacation in 25 years, one of the many sacrifices they have made. No one wishes for a different reality, however.

“One thing you learn when you are taking care of a special-needs kid is the ultimate love,” Bieniemy says. “You learn to be committed. You learn to sacrifice. You have a greater understanding of what accountability means. … It makes you not take anything for granted.”

The man who was interviewed seven times without being offered a head-coaching job has seen some things.

When Bieniemy was a boy in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans, everything, he will tell you, was Black or White. “I witnessed my parents go through a lot of issues with race growing up,” he says.

At the age of 10, Bieniemy and his family moved to Southern California, where he was exposed to people he had never been around before. Initially, it made him uncomfortable.

“As I got older, I realized moving was probably one of the best things that happened to me and my younger brother,” he says. “Why? It exposed us to many different races of people. Some of my best friends were Mexicans. I saw Chinese people, Filipinos. It was such a melting pot of people. Everybody looked at each other like we’re family. It exposed us to different cultures and different ways of life. It helped us to grow. It helped us to accept people for who they are.”

When he went to college, it wasn’t the same. He felt like there were one or two African Americans for every 500 students.

During his freshman year, he was arrested after a bar fight. He told The Los Angeles Times it was precipitated by big White guys telling him, “N—–, we’re going to kick your Black ***.”

Bieniemy pleaded no contest and did community service.

He had a couple of other minor brushes with the law, but nothing serious enough to prevent Colorado from trying to hire him as its head coach earlier this year.

If there is a good reason Bieniemy is not a head coach in the NFL, nobody can explain it. At 51, he checks every box.

“I don’t have the answer,” Bieniemy says. “All of my interview experiences have been good, been great. I had an opportunity to interact with all those different owners, and we actually hit it off. The feeling was mutual. But for whatever reason, it just didn’t work out. And what I’ve learned is, regardless of skin color, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. The way I feel is if they don’t hire me, that’s OK.”

Fumbles happen.

It’s hardly ever about the fumble, though. It’s about what happens after the fumble.

Bieniemy still is a head-coaching candidate near the top of every list. And the second half of his coaching career has yet to begin.

“They’ve almost done me a favor because I get to come back to the Kingdom and work with Coach Reid and (team president) Mark Donovan and (owner) Clark Hunt,” he says. “On top of that, we’ve got a young, up-and-coming quarterback. He’s still young, and he’s got a lot of years ahead of him. … There’s plenty of experience to gain here that’s going to help me moving forward. … If they feel I am not ready, what better place to be?”

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Yes, Eric Bieniemy is laughing.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, TheDirtyWordII said:

Wouldn’t we be charting the same course that we did with Quinn by hiring Bieniemy?

We hired DQ because he was the DC of a defense chuck full of All-Pro talent.

Isn’t Bieniemy just offensive DQ?

I don't think so. I think EB is a true student of the game and DQ is a fool

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He’s great. A leader with good character and he embodies what I think is an overlooked strength of many leaders, he’s lived it through good and bad and he asks of his team only what he would expect of himself. 

 

OK. So 2 quick things:

1) The Texans example is tough. The only NFL head coach making decisions as poorly as DQ in the NFL is Bill O’Brien. If O’Brien was our coach he’d trade Julio for an injury prone, washed up back and throw in our best draft spots for the next couple years to sweeten the deal. So kicking O’Brien’s *** in a football game is a cake walk.  The Texans still have pound for pound the best players in the NFL, best QB, best recievers, tackles, best DBs.  But management doesn’t recognize how to leverage strengths, let alone the need to draft/trade for QB protection.

2) Bieniemy isn’t coming our way. He’s not friends with Blank so that’s a disqualifier and he wants to win a championship on his own. 

If you were a winner with lockdown coaching skills would you come to ATL knowing that your owner is pulling your strings and you’d be essentially powerless to change the culture?  He’s ready to be a HC. But his career would be over in 2 years of he came our way. 

We need to fire Quinn but we need to have ownership buy into a vision of the future or it's for naught. 

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18 minutes ago, TheDirtyWordII said:

Wouldn’t we be charting the same course that we did with Quinn by hiring Bieniemy?

We hired DQ because he was the DC of a defense chuck full of All-Pro talent.

Isn’t Bieniemy just offensive DQ?

On glaring difference is that Bieniemy looks like he hold players accountable and is not chock full of empty platitudes.

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Andy Reid saids that he gives Bieniemy 200 plays to remember on Friday's so that they can formulate a gameplan and Eric remembers them and they put it together before game day.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/national-sports/sns-nfl-eric-beiniemy-robert-salah-not-hire-head-coach-20200130-m7smtgro2bakjouefc3ck3ipeq-story.html

"They also know and respect his mind," Reid said. "Every week, he and I sit down, and we put together this game-plan sheet with 200-plus plays on it. He memorizes every play, every formation. Just BA-boom, on recall, just like that. Every week, I go, 'Listen, are you good with this?' He goes, 'No problem, got it.' A lot of hard work goes into it. Plus, he is a brilliant dude."

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It’s a good read, but there’s no doubt stories on Quinn, and countless other guys who failed as first time HCs. 
 

Flowery prose doesn’t win games. It’s simply meant to emotionally manipulate the reader. Hindsight is the only way to know if it’s positive or negative manipulation. By then it can be too late. 
 

The best option? Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally invested in any coaching hire. 

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1 minute ago, thanat0s said:

It’s a good read, but there’s no doubt stories on Quinn, and countless other guys who failed as first time HCs. 
 

Flowery prose doesn’t win games. It’s simply meant to emotionally manipulate the reader. Hindsight is the only way to know if it’s positive or negative manipulation. By then it can be too late. 
 

The best option? Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally invested in any coaching hire. 

Failing is one thing, but to continue to blow huge leads late in games and doing nothing about it is the Einstein explanation of insanity.

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17 minutes ago, slick0ne said:

I don't think so. I think EB is a true student of the game and DQ is a fool

 

2 minutes ago, Godzilla1985 said:

On glaring difference is that Bieniemy looks like he hold players accountable and is not chock full of empty platitudes.

We say that now...but everyone was Team Quinn when he was hired.  I don't doubt that Bieniemy is a very solid HC candidate and should get his short shortly.

But for the Falcons to essentially follow the same path of hiring their next HC of being enamored with the 'coordinator' of an elite offense (one that has Mahomes/Kelce/Hill...) seems to be a reason why the Falcons are the Falcons.

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4 minutes ago, thanat0s said:

It’s a good read, but there’s no doubt stories on Quinn, and countless other guys who failed as first time HCs. 
 

Flowery prose doesn’t win games. It’s simply meant to emotionally manipulate the reader. Hindsight is the only way to know if it’s positive or negative manipulation. By then it can be too late. 
 

The best option? Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally invested in any coaching hire. 

You are absolutely correct. I remember a long story on DQ the week before Super Bowl 48 that went into detail on his film watching and break downs on Denver and Peyton Manning. I'm almost certain it was a Peter King article. I'm not advocating for EB, but did want to share for everyone else. Unless DQ pulls a miracle out of his a$$, we will be looking for a new HC next season. 

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9 minutes ago, TheDirtyWordII said:

 

We say that now...but everyone was Team Quinn when he was hired.  I don't doubt that Bieniemy is a very solid HC candidate and should get his short shortly.

But for the Falcons to essentially follow the same path of hiring their next HC of being enamored with the 'coordinator' of an elite offense (one that has Mahomes/Kelce/Hill...) seems to be a reason why the Falcons are the Falcons.

Who would you look at then?  Do you have a short list of candidates that interest you?

Edited by Godzilla1985
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4 minutes ago, Goober Pyle said:

You are absolutely correct. I remember a long story on DQ the week before Super Bowl 48 that went into detail on his film watching and break downs on Denver and Peyton Manning. I'm almost certain it was a Peter King article. I'm not advocating for EB, but did want to share for everyone else. Unless DQ pulls a miracle out of his a$$, we will be looking for a new HC next season. 

I remember that.   Article was titled “The Next Great Coach”.  Oh how duped we all were.

Edited by Godzilla1985
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I say start with the GM first. A real football guy adept at talent evaluation. Especially in the trenches. Then trust him to find the right coach. Preferably one who adapts to his players and to situations presented on a game by game, quarter by quarter basis.

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