Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has been one of the most talked-about NFL coaching candidates every year. While many are very high on Bieniemy, though, the sentiment reportedly isn’t shared across the NFL.
A year after Bieniemy just missed out on several head coach openings once again, the 52-year-old coordinator remains an intriguing candidate in 2022. While there’s a lot to like about his resume, some NFL teams seem to have concerns with a few on- and off-field issues that will be red flags during the hiring process.
Update: Story below from reporting in 2020
NFL rumors: Teams concerned about Eric Bieniemy off-field issues, coaching history
For many years, NFL teams in need of a head coach have targeted assistant from the Andy Reid coaching tree. The Philadelphia Eagles hired Doug Pederson (Chiefs’ offensive coordinator from 2013-’15) and the Chicago Bears hired Matt Nagy (Kansas City’s OC from 2016-’17). Now, there’s a strong chance Bieniemy becomes the next to make the transition.
Bieniemy interviewed with the Cleveland Browns this past offseason, ultimately losing out on the job to Kevin Stefanski. While he immediately became a popular name for the 2021 coaching cycle, there are reportedly concerns with his resume.
According to Pro Football Network’s Benjamin Allbright, teams are concerned about Bieniemy’s legal troubles in his past, his poor interviews this past offseason and that he isn’t really serving as Kansas City’s play-caller.
As detailed by John Sheeran of SB Nation’s Cincy Jungle, Bieniemy does have a history of off-field issues ranging from his playing days to his time as a coaching assistant. He plead no contest to a charge as a freshman at Colorado for his involvement in a fight at a bar when he was called a racial slur.
In 1991, Bieniemy’s license was suspended for a year following repeated infractions. He later received an on-campus ban from the University of Colorado for harassing and assaulting a parking lot attendant. In addition, he was arrested for DUI in 2001. Bieniemy also worked on Colorado’s coaching staff when the program had multiple players facing rape allegations.
Since making the jump to the NFL as Kansas City’s running backs coach (2013-’17), Bieniemy hasn’t found any legal trouble. He has turned a corner in his life and learned from his mistakes, but NFL teams will still do extensive background and interviews to gauge his character.
Pro Football Network previously reported that Bieniemy’s past head coach interviews with teams didn’t go well. It hurt him during the evaluation process and led to other candidates landing the job. For him to become an NFL head coach, it will be crucial to sell teams on himself as a person and a play-caller.
Lastly, NFL teams are aware that Reid is calling a majority of the plays in Kansas City. So, there is more risk in betting on a coach who last called plays for a pedestrian Colorado Buffaloes’ offense in 2011-’12.
There are clearly some issues that Bieniemy must address with clubs before landing a job. With that said, he carries a strong endorsement from Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes has also raved about him. When one of the NFL’s greatest coaches and its best player both sing your praises, NFL teams will take notice.
The listed concerns about Bieniemy also didn’t stop other NFL head coaches from landing jobs. Mike Vrabel had legal issues early as an adult and Urban Meyer was hired despite a number of red flags. As for not being the primary play-callier, NFL teams had no issue hiring Matt Nagy, David Culley, Joe Judge, Zac Taylor and Nick Sirianni despite that same problem.