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Eric Bieniemy on Chiefs’ unique plays: “We keep plenty available”

The Chiefs offensive coordinator recognizes how his players react to the unique, unorthodox plays

Baltimore Ravens v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs offensive coaching staff pulled a lot of tricks out of the bag in their 34-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3. The play-calling had been noticeably vanilla in the first two weeks, but that flipped around entirely for the matchup with their AFC rival.

From an end-around reverse to wide receiver Tyreek Hill on the first offensive play to wide receiver Mecole Hardman taking a direct snap, the Chiefs were doing all sorts of things to throw the Baltimore defense off.

Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy enjoys the culture that allows these unique plays to manifest — and he chuckled when asked how many were left to call.

“We keep plenty available,” Bieniemy said with a laugh. “We keep plenty. Everyone talked about the screen that (fullback) [Anthony] Sherman caught. That play was named, ‘Smoked Sausage,’ because we call Sherman the ‘Sausage.’ We have a very, very creative group of people in this building that can come up with a variety of names and we keep it fun. The guys embrace it, they make it fun as well, cause when you give them those particular plays, they take ownership in it and they want it to work. Just to let you know, there’s plenty of more. Plenty left.”

Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Bieniemy giggled throughout his entire answer. He thoroughly enjoys the ability to get this creative with a like-minded coaching staff — but it wouldn’t be possible without players to execute the out-of-the-box thinking. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes put his own twist on the Smoked Sausage that made it even trickier.

“I think Pat threw it underhand just because... I couldn’t tell you exactly how he threw it in that particular moment,” Bieniemy admitted. “I didn’t realize he threw it underhanded until I saw it on tape.”

He also enjoys the reaction it incites from the players that don’t usually get to touch the ball. Sherman has scored five touchdowns in his career and has touched the ball close to 100 times. Left tackle Eric Fisher never gets to hold the ball — and it’d be a bad scenario if he ever was.

Except when his number is called on a goal-line pass in a 27-20 game.

It’s impossible not to enjoy a moment where an offensive lineman scores a touchdown. The only thing missing is a clever name — and Bieniemy couldn’t deliver.

“I can’t even think of the name,” Bieniemy confessed in disbelief. “It was a hell of a play, I’m not even going to tell you the formation in which we called it. It was one of our throwbacks, and we’ve been working this play for awhile — it’s a shame I can’t think of the name of the play.

(Editor’s Note: We now know the play was called, ‘Catch and Release.’)

“He did a great job of executing, he did a great job of setting that guy up and then putting himself in position to catch it. I knew once it was thrown and he got rid of that guy, I knew he was going to make that catch, and I was happy to see him make that play. That was a great moment.”

The best part of the creative offense is how aggressive it is as well. The Smoked Sausage was called on third and goal while only up four points. The pass to Fisher was called in the fourth quarter of a one-score game. The attempt at a double pass that started with Hardman throwing it to Mahomes was an attempt at a third-quarter dagger when some teams would oversimplify the game and running the ball.

Bieniemy not only embraces that aggressive mindset, he radiates it.

“I’m not trying to sound arrogant or anything, that first drive we always want to go out and score,” Bieniemy insisted. “I don’t care if it’s a 15-play drive or a one-play drive, we want to make sure that we go out there and establish our identity and who we are and what we’re going to be about today. You never want to go out there and go three-and-out and put the defense back out there... So, selfishly, that’s our mindset, that’s our attitude, and that’s the type of style of play that we want our guys to understand and embrace. So, when we do that, great things have a tendency to happen. But I know we’ve had a slow start every now and then, but we need to continue making sure that we can get off to a fast start.”

You couldn’t ask for any hotter of a start than what they had against the Ravens. Off a short week, there’s always a concern that the next contest after a significant win will be a letdown game. No other opponent would garner more of their attention than the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick.

“Knowing and playing against the New England Patriots long enough, you always go into the gameplan expecting the unexpected,” Bieniemy remarked. “So, we want to make sure that our guys have that mindset and understand that everything we’re practicing against this week, [Belichick] may flip it.”

The Chiefs will work to get schematically prepared as much as they can before Sunday’s game, but they shouldn’t have to worry about boosting anyone’s confidence. Team morale is high after games like last week’s — and Bieniemy’s open-mindedness to get more players involved is a big factor.