<
>

Best fit for Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy? A look at the five teams with which he's interviewed

play
Jets GM not yet focused on Darnold decision (0:52)

Jets GM Joe Douglas explains how the team is focused on getting a new head coach before making a decision about quarterback Sam Darnold. (0:52)

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid has sent 10 of his assistants into NFL head-coaching positions. Two eventually coached championship teams; a third brought his team to the Super Bowl, where it lost.

He'd rank his latest candidate, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, with any of them.

"I have not seen many guys that are as great a leader as he is of men," Reid said this week. "In this business, that's huge. You're never going to have to worry about Eric Bieniemy -- never -- on the field, off the field. He's going to be honest with you and straightforward, and then he knows the offense."

That would be a Chiefs offense that has ranked first in the NFL in two of the past three years.

This week, while the Chiefs enjoyed a first-round playoff bye, Bieniemy interviewed with five of the six teams needing a head coach: the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets.

ESPN reporters for each of the five teams took a look at whether Bieniemy, who was the Chiefs' running back coach for five seasons before being promoted to coordinator in 2018, makes sense for their teams. -- Adam Teicher

Atlanta Falcons

Why he fits: The one thing the Falcons have done consistently the past few years is move the football, and that's what Bieniemy knows best. Sure, the Falcons need to continue to work on the defensive side of the football, which improved by the end of 2020. But Bieniemy has led the NFL's most explosive offense for three years now and would have a great starting point with what Atlanta currently has in the arsenal. The Falcons fired coach Dan Quinn following an 0-5 start, and improved on defense under interim coach Raheem Morris while going 4-7 the rest of the way. Keeping Morris is intriguing, but the potential of the Falcons' offense under Bieniemy is too great to pass up -- go score a lot of points and figure out the defense later. -- Harry Lyles Jr.

Detroit Lions

Why he fits: The Lions are looking for someone who has the ability to display leadership -- even at a coordinator level -- and promote a culture of unity with the incoming general manager. Bieniemy demonstrated that during the 2019 season, when he spoke with linebacker Reggie Ragland -- a player not on his side of the ball -- about his lack of playing time. Ragland said Bieniemy kept his spirits up, which Ragland appreciated. Eventually, Ragland started playing again and ended up with Detroit in 2020. Bieniemy's potential offense would fit well with some of the Lions' options, particularly tight end T.J. Hockenson. There's a lot to like from Bieniemy, provided he is able to give good responses to some questions about his past, particularly about his banishment from Colorado's campus for a year for harassing a parking lot attendant and his DUI in 2001. The Lions will want to avoid any surprises, especially after what happened with Matt Patricia when a 22-year-old sexual assault indictment came to light after he was hired. -- Michael Rothstein

Jacksonville Jaguars

Why he fits: Trevor Lawrence. Bieniemy has spent the past eight seasons working under Andy Reid and learning how to manage QBs and call plays. That's a pretty good guy to study under. All-everything quarterback Patrick Mahomes is obviously a unique player, but Lawrence does have some of the same traits (mobility, strong arm, pocket feel) and you could see him fitting into that Kansas City offense relatively seamlessly. Bieniemy will bring that offense to Jacksonville and the Jaguars have the draft capital and cap space to give Lawrence some additional weapons, especially at tight end, a position Bieniemy has had success with in Travis Kelce. -- Michael DiRocco

Los Angeles Chargers

Why he fits: Bieniemy and the AFC West rival Chiefs are 4-2 against the Chargers since Bieniemy took over as offensive coordinator, and if you're going to beat the best, you've got to have the best. As a player, Bieniemy was a smaller, bullish-type running back his entire career, running over and through the biggest of offensive lines. During his tenure as offensive coordinator (with Andy Reid calling the plays) the Chiefs became an effective offense and quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the league's MVP, throwing for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in 2018. The Chiefs have reached two AFC title games and a Super Bowl with Bieniemy as offensive coordinator. In 2020, Mahomes threw for 4,740 yards and the Chiefs earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Although Chargers GM Tom Telesco says he's not necessarily looking for an offensive-minded coach, he did say he wanted a coach with a "really good offensive plan." Makes sense when you've got quarterback Justin Herbert. -- Shelley Smith

New York Jets

Why he fits: Bieniemy would be a solid choice for the Jets, who need a dynamic leader to fill a massive void in the organization. He would bring instant credibility because of his success with the Chiefs. He's regarded as a players' coach, and that's important. After two years of Adam Gase, the Jets need a coach who can connect with the locker room and build trust with the players. The biggest question is, can he re-create the Chiefs' offense without Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes? -- Rich Cimini