Eric Bieniemy’s inability to get a head-coaching job remains confounding

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
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The Chiefs have been to five straight AFC Championships, making it to the Super Bowl three times and winning twice. In each of those five years, Eric Bieniemy has served as the team’s offensive coordinator.

So why can’t he get a chance to be a head coach?

Various theories have been floated over the past five hiring cycles, from past off-field issues to bad interviews to the misguided notion that Bieniemy deserves less credit for the offense because offensive guru Andy Reid runs the show.

That didn’t keep Bieniemy’s two predecessors in Kansas City from getting head coaching jobs. Doug Pederson was Reid’s first offensive coordinator with the Chiefs. Pederson became the coach of the Eagles in 2016. Matt Nagy replaced Pederson. After two seasons, Nagy became the coach of the Bears.

So why can’t Bieniemy get a job?

Here’s a theory, inspired by an excellent look at the NFL’s relationship with social-justice issues from the latest episode of HBO’s Game Theory with Bomani Jones. Although the NFL donates many millions to groups that advocate for racial equality, the NFL keeps a very low profile when it comes to such matters.

The goal is to placate those who want the NFL to do something while not pissing off those who would regard the NFL as being “woke,” or whatever. Thus, with so many people in the media advocating for Bieniemy to get a chance to be a coach and suggesting that the failure to do so traces to the NFL’s woeful hiring record when it comes to diversity, some owners may fear that hiring Bieniemy would prompt a very vocal 30 percent of the fan base to suggest that the team has surrendered to the “woke mob,” in lieu of hiring the best person for the job.

Whatever the reason, it makes no sense. Bieniemy has earned a chance to be a head coach. He shouldn’t have to prove his ability to run the offense with another team to close the deal.

I’ve got a feeling that, even if Bieniemy leaves and does well with a team whose head coach has a defensive background, there will be another reason for not hiring Bieniemy. Or no reason at all.

He just won’t get a job, year after year and cycle after cycle until he finally retires.

64 responses to “Eric Bieniemy’s inability to get a head-coaching job remains confounding

  1. It’s not “confounding” at all..We live in a “me too” era. Any team that hires them automatically draws in the Colorado cover up.

    You should know better being in the media. Why do I know about these incidents, but you don’t?

    It’s pretty clear that the media would be all over that if a team hired him as a head coach.

  2. Jim Caldwell was Peyton Mannings QB coach. Jim Caldwell was in close proximity to a great player. It did not make him a great head coach. They went to a Super Bowl with Manning and they went 2-14 when Manning left.

  3. Whatever the reason, it makes no sense. Bieniemy has earned a chance to be a head coach. He shouldn’t have to prove his ability to run the offense with another team to close the deal


    Yes, he should. Everyone knows Reid is the brains behind the offense. Plus they have the best QB in the game. Does anyone actually think Bieniemy is the difference maker? Certainly not. If he is serious about wanting to be a head coach then leave your binky behind and prove you can do it somewhere else. Possibly, he just isn’t up to the task.

  4. Complete lack of playcalling experience is a problem. Andy calls all the plays at KC. Eric needs to go elsewhere and get that hands-on experience. NFL team owners don’t want to commit to someone who’s just well organized, experienced and good with the players – ie another Joe Philbin (who was Mike McCarthy’s right hand guy in Green Bay with zero playcalling experience).

  5. It’s a fair question, but the bottom line is none of us are sitting in that interview room, and maybe he just bombs during the interview process, and comes across as less than stellar

  6. Clearly out of the 4 coordinators at the superbowl, KC’s didnt deserve to be either of the 2 that just got hired… LOL .. but when you look at the teams doing the hiring, KC’s guys are lucky and happy to be where they are

  7. I remember when Cincinnati interviewed him before hiring Taylor. People close to the organization that I personally know said he wasn’t well organized and that he wasn’t a good communicator. He actually played for the Bengals and they wanted to hire him but he didn’t have it together enough for them to pull the trigger. I hope he has been learning from the feed back and working on those things because as the head coach you have to be organized and be able to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s a different job than being a coordinator for one side of the ball.

  8. Perhaps he just doesn’t interview well. He may, in fact, prove to be an excellent head coach, if given the opportunity, but it’s hard to blame owners/GMs for not hiring someone who doesn’t have a really strong interview.

  9. I find it weird that if he’s truly such a great head coaching candidate, why would the chiefs let him walk

  10. Why would he leave?? He’s the Offensive Coordinator with the Best QB in the league..and once Reid retires in a couple years, he’ll probably be the Head Coach with the Best QB in the league.

  11. Clark Hunt should pay him $10 million per year and give him the title Assistant Head Coach. He’s earned. Why let him get away. Keep the Chiefs dynasty together.

  12. He doesn’t design the offense, he doesn’t call plays and he has the best player in football playing QB. He doesn’t deserve credit for KC’s success, you just hope he’s learning. Obviously after these interviews they didn’t think he was ready.

  13. Maybe he’s not head coach material? Maybe the highly paid men who run teams know something you dont? Not saying that’s what it is but …..

  14. The off field issues are concerning even though they were in the past. The one thing that holds him back is he has Andy Reid and Mahomes running the show. No team in the league has that combo. ESPN keeps going on and on about this on the radio. They made it seem like his past off field issues were nil. “Oh he was just a young man”. Terrible take. I realize he’s kept his nose clean since 2001 but it’s still there. On top of that no one knows what his interviews are like. He could be absolutely terrible. He’s gotten plenty of sniffs. There’s something else going on here and it’s not skin color. Miami interviewed him in the same cycle as Flores and opted for the latter. There’s only 32 of these jobs, if you’re a terrible interviewee, that’s on you. No one knows how a coach will perform when hired. He could be great or he could set the team back. Same with all the coaching hires regardless of skin color.

  15. I don’t believe race has anything to do with his inability to get a HC gig. I think it’s the interview that he fails at. He must do or say something or possibly just doesn’t project convidence. Whatever it is he’s not impressing and as we’ve seen many times before some are just not cut out to on the responsibility..

  16. Sucks for Bieniemy’s net worth, but at least he’ll retire with 3 or more rings if he sticks it out in KC. But I think most people would rather take the money.

  17. Look around the league, teams have smartened up and learned hiring the OC for a superstar QB isn’t the safest route if he isn’t bringing the superstar QB with him. Hackett was a disaster, the only current HC that got his job after being the OC for a start QB is Dabol. You could throw McDaniels in too but he didn’t get the HC job until after his season with Mac Jones. There is more to picking a Head Coach than just grabbing a coordinator from a successful team

  18. Is there a white offensive coordinator in the last 25 years who has gone to three Super Bowls and won two that hasn’t gotten a head coaching job? I don’t think so. If Bienemy was white he would have been hired as a head coach at least 2 years ago if not 3.

  19. I really hope Bieniemy returns to the Chiefs. If he’s changing teams just to get out of Reid’s shadow I believe he’s making a mistake. You’ve got a great boss and the best QB in football. There’s no doubt he deserves a HC position, but I wouldn’t jump to a lesser team to possibly get that chance. I think it’s likely that Reid retires in another year or two and the Chiefs will want Bieniemy to step in. Regardless of his decision I hope he gets a chance soon.

  20. Here is another more likely “theory”. The NFL (former) head coach landscape is littered with “genius” Offensive Coordinators who while wildly successful at running an offense, just could not cut it as head coaches when their opportunity came (Nathaniel Hackett, Adam Gase). Each of those guys fooled their owners in believing otherwise during interviews. Bieniemy is clearly great at running an offense. Maybe it is just that something is coming through in his interviews that makes it clear that he would likely struggle with the more difficult job of head coach…..something not seen with Pederson and Nagy. Maybe it is as simple as that.

  21. The difference between Andy Reid in Philadelphia, and Andy Reid in Kansas City is Eric Bieniemy. I wouldn’t let Eric get away. I’d make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. They could pay him 3 times what other offensive coordinators are making because nobody has his resume. Seriously, the Chiefs should pay him $10 million per year to stay. With every super bowl trophy, the value of the Chiefs’ franchise goes up, and up. Keep Bieniemy, and it will continue going up. If nothing else, it’s a wise business decision.

  22. twilightzone says:
    February 15, 2023 at 8:58 pm
    Jim Caldwell was Peyton Mannings QB coach. Jim Caldwell was in close proximity to a great player. It did not make him a great head coach. They went to a Super Bowl with Manning and they went 2-14 when Manning left
    Peyton Manning was below .500 as an NFL QB before Dungy/Caldwell got there. Manning didn’t “leave” he was unexpectedly injured for the entire season leaving them with Curtis Panter. They won 8 less games than the year before. Belichick won 6 less without Brady when he was injured. If you want to compare apples to apples.

  23. Has anyone ever considered that maybe the guy is just a bad interview? Maybe he has some crazy ideas that nobody likes. Maybe his pitch sucks. Maybe he just doesn’t have the interview skills necessary to nail it. An interview is more than “look at what I’ve done.” There’s a human element to it that matters. Anyone who has ever been on an interview or has given an interview knows this. Maybe he just interviews poorly, especially for a head coaching job where someone is handing you the keys. It’s much different than being interviewed for a spot on someone else’s staff.

  24. If he’s so good as an OC, why doesn’t KC sign him long term? The fact they don’t is a huge red flag. Blame KC…

  25. “Thus, with so many people in the media advocating for Bieniemy to get a chance to be a coach and suggesting that the failure to do so traces to the NFL’s woeful hiring record when it comes to diversity”

    It sounds like the media is caught up in making themselves look good rather than making EB’s life better. Perhaps – just as an experiment – they could try keeping their yaps shut for a season of Chiefs broadcasts and helping the guy out.

    EB has interviewed with nearly half the teams in the league, 14 as I recall from a recent PFT article. When that many have given him a shot, it’s hard to believe that he hasn’t run across an owner who doesn’t care about public perception, and harder and harder to believe that the problem is others and not EB himself.

  26. If Johnathan Gannon got a head coaching job after a two year stint where it culminated in a defensive collapse in the Super Bowl, certainly Bieniemy should also get a job. Do I think he’ll be a good coach? I didn’t think Sirianni or Hurts would amount to much and they laughed their way to the Super Bowl. At a certain point you have to take a flier. I think he’ll get a gig eventually.

  27. No idea if he will make a good head coach or not. But why is it assumed that a good coordinator will automatically be a good head coach?

  28. It’s the Nagy effect. Everyone knows the play caller is Reid and that’s what they want. Just being exposed to the process is not enough, as Nagy unfortunately proved. Pederson is just smarter than either Nagy or Bienemy. The best thing Bienemy can do is land an OC job elsewhere and have success. People like me are convinced KC wins because of Reid and Mahomes. Bienemy contributes but if he leaves, KC will still succeed.

  29. twilightzone says:
    February 15, 2023 at 8:58 pm
    Jim Caldwell was Peyton Mannings QB coach.

    I’ve been trying to say this for the longest time. Pederson and Nagy only had Alex Smith to work with. Mahomes is what’s holding Bienemy back the most. GMs and owners aren’t the fools we often take them for. The last two decades Manning and Brady have made a lot of mediocre coaches look like geniuses and maybe front offices around the league are just approaching this with extreme caution so as not to fall into this generations version of the “Patriot way.”

  30. I’m starting to think. He is either not coming across as impressive enough for these few openings to make a team say that’s my guy. Or he might just want to hold out for KC to open up. If and when Reid retires and he’s still the OC. If he dosnt just get it by default. Then you’ll have your answer

  31. Peter King’s article on Monday following the Super Bowl said it all. Any Reid look at his play sheet and called “corn dog!” Eric didn’t make that call. Andy did. I am sure Eric had a role in making sure the players were capable of running the play during practice, but when push came to shove, Andy made the call.

    And he HAS been given the chance to become a head coach. He has been interviewed, potential employers have looked over his body of work, and chosen to go in a different direction. This happens every day in every walk of life. I was taught to suck it up and move on to the next opportunity, hopefully with some insight from the organization that did not offer the opportunity to you about what you can do to make yourself a better candidate.

  32. Maybe the guy just interviews very poorly? Maybe these owners don’t feel like he’d be a good leader. Not everything needs to be about race.

  33. Hiring the right guy OR being stuck with a BUST for more than 1 year is a legit concern!

    LOOK at the Bucs… Likely regretting having Bowles as HC BUT if they fire him (as everyone knows they should) just after 1 season and his person being what it is, the media would spin the Bucs as the bad guy… Meanwhile making Bowles a lame duck coach most knows he is getting fired the moment the chance presence itself so they media would NOT make it a thing…

  34. In league circles there are well known, off the field incidents, that have kept teams from giving control of their franchise to him. I think you are aware of that put seem to want to stir the pot for some reason. My guess is that the Chiefs also would be fine moving on without him, but they are kind of trapped. I think they would love for someone else to hire him and they could move on. If no one else offers him a play calling OC position they’ll renew his contract for another year and wait, hoping someone else will next year. Just an outsider’s opinion.

  35. take out all the social justice issues. Mahomes is going to be around longer than Andy Reid. Why not get some rings while learning from a top notch head coach and then take over for Reid? If they win the super bowl again in next year or two, is it crazy to think Reid will retire and he moves to coach?

  36. I am guessing and I admit only guessing that it is because people think it is because Andy calls the plays. He needs to go somewhere else maybe with a defensive head coach and show he has it. I think he deserves a chance. But the other thing is maybe he doesn’t interview well. He knows his stuff but panics under pressure. Just speculation.

  37. Should he wait for Andy to retire and ride out Mahomes second half of his career?

    Call me crazy but I’d rather be in KC with Mahomes and a chance at the Lombardi than to an organization that needs to be turned around.

    Might just be me though.

  38. Bruce Arians didn’t get a job for years cause owners thought he was a loose cannon. Maybe he is, but he’s also a great HC.

    Arians may not have gotten the AZ job except the all the top candidates were already hired and Bruce and AZ were the last two standing.

    Prejudice cannot be overlooked, but I think the explanation is much more simple—owners don’t know how to hire the right people. Anybody think Todd Bowles is a great HC?

  39. twilightzone says:
    February 15, 2023 at 8:58 pm
    Jim Caldwell was Peyton Mannings QB coach. Jim Caldwell was in close proximity to a great player. It did not make him a great head coach. They went to a Super Bowl with Manning and they went 2-14 when Manning left.


    Jim Caldwell was an EXCELLENT Coach and Leader of Men. The pundits said he would fall flat on his face “Overwhelmed” as a 1st Year HC and he won a AFC championship and overcame the SuperBowl “Hangover” and Led that team to within 60 minutes of being Legendary! I guess since he didn’t win it he was a “Bad hire” Lol So in case you thought it was “All Manning” and that “Nobody REALLY Coached Peyton” Mr Caldwell went down to Baltimore and “Fixed” Joe Flacco when Cam Cameron had him looking like Trent Dilfer! Lol
    Then to add a Cherry on top he takes the Detroit Lions job(Woah is Me) Aka Arguably the Worst HC job in the NFL and in his 1st Season as Lions HC win 11 games and took them to the playoffs!!! He got fired from the Lions for having back to back 9 win Seasons yet Brandon Staley Somehow Someway STILL is Employed. America what a Country

  40. Who needs all the headache. As long s he’s happy doing what he’s doing he should stay where he is…

  41. Shocking. You mean the NFL throws money and lip service for optics, but seldom walks the walk? My Lord this is most shocking.

  42. Simple….he’s not viewed as competent as a HC by the experts. Just being around greatness does not give you a right to be at their level. It’s not hard to understand and it’s not racism.

  43. For whatever reasons Bieniemy must not interview well. What other reason can there possibly be?

  44. Maybe because he is an offensive coordinator who doesn’t design or call offensive plays and schemes?

    It is always credited to Reid, so the question needs to be addressed, how bush is Reid, and how much of Chiefs success is Bieniemy’s

  45. twilightzone says:
    February 15, 2023 at 8:58 pm
    Jim Caldwell was Peyton Mannings QB coach. Jim Caldwell was in close proximity to a great player. It did not make him a great head coach. They went to a Super Bowl with Manning and they went 2-14 when Manning left.


    Ask Lions fans which coach got them to the playoffs twice last decade?

  46. For every Pederson there’s a dozen Nagy’s. Too many to name here. Being a long time coordinator has nothing to do with your ability to run the show as HC.

    I’ve posted this before, if/when Reid retires in the next couple years and Bieniemy is still on the staff, if KC doesn’t make him the defacto HC then you know he was never HC material.

  47. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahommes are the KC offense. Bieniemy is the Nathaniel Hackett of the Chiefs. Nobody wants to do what the Broncos just did…

  48. I hope someone hires him just to shut people up. Then when he does not do well what will people say? Or if he gets fired we will hear he did not get to lose long enough before the got fired.

  49. There’s obviously more to this story than the public knows. There has to be something about the man that is too big to cover up his qualifications, which include the full endorsement from Andy Reid. It’s either a league-wide secret that reporters are asked not to disclose, or something to that effect, otherwise, he’d be hired.

  50. Absolutely spot-on. His experience as OC under Reid is invaluable. He is miles ahead of any other OC hired to HC in the past few years. You really think Nathaniel Hackett deserved a shot before Bieniemy???

  51. By and large, most of the comments I’ve read associated with this post are each legitimate in their own right … and in terms of distinct themes, I’m thinking there were (like) six. That number might be too much for Eric Bienemy (sp) to overcome. The NFL isn’t the only place where “the obvious” never comes to pass.

  52. The best salesman in the world doesn’t always make is as sales manager

    The greatest doctor in the world doesn’t run the hospital

    The best pilots in the world don’t become Generals

    I don’t understand your obsession with Bieniemy or Spagnulo

    The greatest OC’s and DC’s don’t always make great HC’s

  53. I think the real question is how guys like Demecco Ryans, Mike McDaniel and Lovie Smith (all black) had no problem getting jobs but EB does?

  54. It’s really not. Everyone knows Reid runs that offense. He’s going to need to turn around an offense that he runs. It’s kind of like Ray Edwards in Minnesota. Everyone knew that was Zimmer’s defense. It’s also why Edwards left. Bieniemy can leave and take an OC job elsewhere, and if he does a good job, he’ll be a top HC candidate almost immediately. It has absolutely nothing to do with the color of his skin.

  55. Many teams have passed on him, they all can not be wrong. KC is stuck with him and does not want to foul things up letting him call plays

  56. Maybe he has a weak network of coaches that he wants/can hire so the deep playoff runs are hurting his chances to get a HC gig.

    If I was a GM or team owner I’m hiring the best candidate ASAP so I can then hire best staff possible…EB goes to AZ or Indy he’s going to build his staff from scraps.

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