When it comes to the tenure of Eric Bieniemy in Kansas City, the best word to describe it right now is, "complicated."
To anybody on the outside looking in, Bieniemy should be the next rock star head coach generated by the Andy Reid coaching factory. The Kansas City offense has been one of the best in the league since he's taken over as coordinator (2018). He's achieved at the highest level an offensive coordinator can, yet he seems stuck in Kansas City.
Bieniemy's struggles to become a head coach have been at the forefront of diversity concerns in the NFL for years. Bieniemy is more than qualified to become a head coach in the NFL. So why hasn't it happened yet?
The answer to that question may never crystalize to those of us not privy to the inner workings of coaching staffs around the league.
There are many angles of the Eric Bieniemy story in Kansas City. There is the multiple times he's been caught on camera arguing with some of the Chiefs' star players. There is the ridicule from former players such as LeSean McCoy. There is the limbo period after the 2021 AFC Championship loss where the Chiefs had "discussions" in order to bring him back.
Here is the exchange between Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and OC Eric Bieniemy at end of first half. Seems Bieniemy may have made the decision to run the ball on second-and-20 at the KC 36 to bleed the final second-quarter seconds. Chiefs ball to start third. pic.twitter.com/2MwaVi2ayf— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) September 25, 2022
What are the two most important factors in the Chiefs' rise to glory over the last 10 years?
The answer is simple. It's Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. We've seen Reid be a successful coach without Mahomes, but it's undeniable that Reid has been elevated by getting his true Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback. Now that Kansas City and Reid have elite quarterback play and a ring, the focus has to shift to keeping their quarterback happy.
The list of franchises that regret not keeping their elite quarterback happy is long. The Chiefs need to do everything they can to keep Mahomes happy long-term, so they don't end up like the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Houston Texans — who have all had to watch their franchise QB shoot his way out of town.
Has Mahomes ever come out publicly and said he doesn't like working with Bieniemy? No, never.
Mahomes is one the most well-spoken superstars in the NFL. Everything he does in the public eye seems to be calculated and perfect; he would never ridicule a teammate or coach publicly. Sure, there are plenty of sound clips out there of Mahomes being asked about Bieniemy, and he replies with something nice.
However, it seems there could be more in the details when it comes to their relationship. For instance, this cryptic tweet was sent out around the Super Bowl this year.
Things in Kansas City are going to be quite interesting to keep an eye on right after the NFL Combine & next season…Matt Nagy’s addition will not only prove to be good timing to handle the upcoming allocation of duties….but also is very well-received by Patrick Mahomes. #Chiefs— JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 27, 2022
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter who was right or wrong on the sideline last Sunday. And Bieniemy might one day be the next great head coach in the Reid coaching tree.
It's possible that both Mahomes and Bieniemy are great at what they do and have relied upon each other to reach the success that they have. However, if their relationship is splintered, the Chiefs need to stand by what Mahomes wants. It doesn't take a detective to tell Mahomes' camp was overjoyed to have Matt Nagy back on the staff, and it's also apparent that the Chiefs had to take some time to think about bringing Bieniemy back this offseason.
We all know that the Chiefs' offense begins and ends with Reid, as he has lost numerous coordinators and coaches over his 20 years, and the offenses continue to produce.
The scheme of the Chiefs may benefit from bringing in a new offensive mind rather than Reid's disciples. And quite frankly, it's not worth the risk of creating tension with Mahomes just to keep Bieniemy on the staff. Keeping star quarterbacks content is a full-time job, and it's a job that owner Clark Hunt and Reid have to focus on in the long term.
If Mahomes wants Bieniemy in Kansas City, then there's no trouble in paradise, and perhaps this weekend was just two competitors on edge. But, there is undoubtedly enough smoke for there to be fire between the two, and the Chiefs need to make a decision about that relationship long-term before it's too late.