Does Eric Bieniemy need to leave Andy Reid's giant shadow to land an elusive head coaching opportunity?
In the Super Bowl LVII afterglow, Reid was asked Monday what might be next for Bieniemy, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator whose contract is up with the season now officially over. Bieniemy is believed to have interviewed for 12 head coaching vacancies over the past five years since taking his current post.
What was notable was that Reid didn't deny the possibility that Bieniemy might have to go elsewhere to earn his first head coaching opportunity.
"Eric Bieniemy has been tremendous for us, and I think he's tremendous for the National Football League," Reid said. "I'm hoping he has an opportunity to go somewhere and do his thing, where he can run the show and be Eric Bieniemy."
For several years now, Bieniemy has been considered for head coaching jobs but never has received one. The Chiefs just capped their second Super Bowl championship and third appearance in the big game in four years. They've won the AFC West five straight seasons, and Bieniemy has overseen the development of Patrick Mahomes into the stratosphere of elite quarterbacks -- current or all-time, depending on who you ask. And yet, Bieniemy must wait, even after a coach-hiring cycle that moved slower than it had in recent years.
Bieniemy was in a similar situation one year ago. He signed a one-year deal to return to Kansas City. The move paid off for both parties in that the Chiefs won the Super Bowl this year, beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35, in a classic.
But in terms of career advancement, Bieniemy still must wait. He interviewed for the Colts' head coaching job this offseason, which went to Shane Steichen, and reportedly was in play for the offensive coordinator positions of the Titans and Ravens before those jobs were filled.
Bieniemy does, however, have at least one extant option that we know about if he doesn't return to Kansas City. The Commanders have requested an interview with him, which could provide an interesting opportunity to enhance his reputation as an offensive mind.
Washington's plans at quarterback remain unclear. If Bieniemy were to land on Ron Rivera's staff, he'd likely step into the job with Sam Howell as his current QB1. The Commanders still have a decision to make on Carson Wentz, but it appears he won't return. There also are free-agent and trade possibilities, as well as the 2023 NFL Draft.
Rivera previously worked under Reid and surely has talked or will talk to his former boss about the possibility of bringing Bieniemy on board. The Chiefs have internal candidates on staff --including former Bears head coach Matt Nagy -- who easily could take Bieniemy's place if need be.
Reid has produced one of the most fruitful coaching trees in the NFL over the past few decades. He has gone out of his way to help the Bieniemy branch grow and hopes this offseason could provide that chance for one of the NFL's most successful assistant coaches in recent years.
"I always wish our guys the best of luck," Reid said. "An opportunity -- that's what all of them deserve. They work hard. If they can get a promotion somewhere that I can't give them, more power to them."