Chiefs coordinator Bieniemy once again hot coach commodity
By DAVE SKRETTA
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Doug Pederson lasted five seasons in Philadelphia and Matt Nagy just four in Chicago before they ultimately were fired.
That hasn't diminished the interest teams have in Andy Reid's offensive coordinators.
Passed over several times for head coaching jobs over the past few seasons, Eric Bieniemy is again a hot commodity as the Chiefs prepare for a divisional-round matchup with the Bills on Sunday night. He spoke virtually with the Jaguars, Jets, Chargers, Falcons and Lions about their openings last season, and he's been in touch with the Broncos about their job this season.
"All of that stuff is going to take care of itself," he said. "And do not get me wrong, I am blessed and I am fortunate to be a part of that chatter, to be a part of some of the things that are taking place, but right now my focus is to make sure that we are ready to play a 60-minute game where we can go out there and play hard and play fast."
Despite their disappointing fates, it's not as if Bieniemy's predecessors in charge of the Chiefs offense were total failures.
After spending three years in the job as part of Reid's initial staff in Kansas City, Pederson was plucked away to rebuild the Eagles. He went 7-9 his first season before going 13-3 and winning the Super Bowl in Year 2. Two more playoff appearances followed before a 4-11-1 flop in 2020 led to Pederson's firing.
Incidentally, he's interviewed with multiple teams for their current coaching vacancies.
Nagy was fired earlier this month after a rollercoaster ride in Chicago. It included the soaring highs of a 12-4 debut and a pair of wild-card game appearances along with the crushing low of a 6-11 season that led to his ouster.
Pederson and Nagy are just two limbs on the Reid coaching tree, too.
There's Super Bowl-winning Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who nearly had his injury-filled team in the playoffs again this season. Washington coach Ron Rivera also reached the Super Bowl with Carolina. Brad Childress led Minnesota to the NFC title game and his replacement, current Buffalo coordinator Leslie Frazier, took the Vikings back to the playoffs. Todd Bowles, Pat Shurmur and current Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo also have had head coaching jobs.
And let's not forget, Bills coach Sean McDermott got his start working for Reid during his days in Philadelphia.
So why has Reid been so successful at developing assistant coaches?
"First of all," Bieniemy said, "he's a father figure. He's been around a number of years, and he's very, very consistent in what he does. He does a great job of delegating and making sure that everybody knows exactly what their roles are. But on top of that, he allows you to be yourself. He wants you to be the expert at what you do.
"So, when you have a coach that's not always just saying, `You have to do this,' or, `You have to do that,' it makes it special," Bieniemy explained, "because guys can come to work feeling comfortable in their own skin and going out there and perform up to their best capabilities. Then, another thing is there are no egos. We all work together. I think that's one of the unique parts that makes our coaching staff a very, very strong place, because we all work together. We all get along."
Perhaps all of that has rubbed off on McDermott, too. His offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, has generated interest and Frazier is again attracting some attention as a head coaching candidate.
Much like Bieniemy, they prefer to keep a low profile and focus solely on Sunday's game in Kansas City.
"For me, it's all about the game that we have and that's how I approached last week leading up to our New England game," Frazier said, "just making sure I stayed locked in on what we had to get done against that particular time. I'm not the type of person that can divide my mind and switch gears, so I had to stay locked in."
Perhaps the biggest impediment to Bieniemy landing a top job the past couple of years has been his own success. The Chiefs have reached three straight AFC championship games and two straight Super Bowls, which means they've regularly played into February - long past the time most organizations want the hiring process to be complete.
In the eyes of Reid, though, that's a lousy excuse.
"It disappoints me that someone hasn't hired him, obviously, because he's so good," Reid said. "I'm hoping that takes place this year. But you know the guys, they're not going to let it be a distraction. They're going to defer to the team and what that's all about and then kind of let the chips fall where they may. I'm sure between COVID-19 and our long season it hasn't been real beneficial for EB in having the opportunity, but I think this year he's going to end up with one."
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Updated January 20, 2022