The Kansas City offense, once it got out of neutral on Sunday night, did what it often does. It scored a lot of points in not much time.
The performance underscores the fact that too much time has passed for offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to get a chance to run a team of his own.
Why hasn’t he gotten a shot yet? Per multiple sources, the periodic and persistent chatter regarding Bieniemy being a “bad interview” is BS. As one source with knowledge of the situation explained it to PFT over the weekend, Bieniemy did a great job in last year’s hiring cycle. And he continues to improve, as he receives (and he has) specific feedback on how to make his presentation even better.
So what’s the problem? It comes down to the reluctance, to date, of a team to make the bet that Bieniemy the great offensive coordinator will become Bieniemy the great head coach.
The skills sets are very different. For every one that works out, more than one don’t. (There’s a chapter in Playmakers about this dynamic; it’s football’s version of the Peter Principle.) And so the teams deciding on coaches must make the projection that a coordinator who has never been a head coach will become a good head coach.
The projection requires research that extends well beyond the predictable on-the-record comments of current boss and current players. It also necessitates a complete study of the coach’s history. Has overachievement happened at prior steps on his overall path?
Ultimately, it’s a risk. It’s a chance. Others with lesser accomplishments have gotten the chance. With 25 percent of the league looking for new coaches, it’s hard to argue that Bieniemy hasn’t earned his chance.
After four years coordinating an offense that features Patrick Mahomes and that has been to three straight AFC Championships and two straight Super Bowls, a growing number of league insiders believe Bieniemy has earned his shot. Folks throughout the Chiefs organization are actively supporting him, publicly and privately.
In Minnesota, less of a projection is involved. Bieniemy served as the team’s running backs coach from 2006 through 2009. He added the title of assistant head coach in 2010.
That could be good, and it could be bad. Bieniemy worked for Brad Childress, an ultimately unpopular head coach who failed to take one of the best teams in franchise history (the 2009 edition, Brett Favre’s first year) to the Super Bowl, fueled by the inexplicable placement of 12 men in the huddle coming out of a timeout. Then came 2010, a disaster that saw Childress fired during the season.
This obviously doesn’t disqualify Bieniemy from the Minnesota job. Again, however, they know him there better than they know him elsewhere. Somewhere, someone needs to figure out that Bieniemy deserves a chance to become as successful as a head coach as he’s been as a coordinator.