Since becoming the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator in 2018, Eric Bieniemy has accomplished about as much as he possibly could.
During the span from 2018 to 2022, Kansas City's offense has ranked first, fourth, sixth, fifth and first again. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has won two MVP awards under his watch, and the Chiefs are headed to their third Super Bowl in four years.
There are not many offensive coordinators in the league whose résumés can compare to Bieniemy — yet, year after year, he sits stuck in neutral when it comes to his coaching career. At some point, we need to acknowledge a few things about his seemingly never-ending search for a head coaching job.
First, we need to acknowledge that there has been inequity in head coaching searches in the past. Given the NFL's player demographics, a disproportionate amount of minority coaches are hired. This has been well-documented and addressed by both sports media and the league itself.
League policies such as the "Rooney rule" promote and encourage the hiring of minority candidates. The NFL has even gone as far as promoting organizations with draft compensation for developing minority coach and executive candidates. Bieniemy has been the tip of the spear for many in this discussion.
It would be borderline impossible to rule out the possibility that Bieniemy at one time suffered from intentional or unintentional bias in his head coaching process. However, at a certain point, one has to acknowledge that given the number of opportunities that have passed him by, there may be more to his lack of success in becoming a head coach than just bias.
Since 2018, there have been 33 head coaching job searches that passed on Bieniemy. Additionally, eight of those hires were minorities. Nine organizations have passed on him more than once, as they've hired multiple coaches.
We could sit and speculate forever on why Bieniemy does not have a head coaching job. But the fact is that unless he gets the final two openings this cycle (Arizona or Indianapolis), he will once again strike out.
That will lead to a question that has to be asked: what does he have to do to prove himself further?
It's a safe assumption to say Bieniemy wants to be a head coach. He's had numerous interviews, and we've never learned that he turned down a job offer. It may or may not be fair, but Bieniemy is likely going to have to prove something else before he gets his chance.
Perhaps coordinating the No. 1 offense in the NFL to a Super Bowl title with the league MVP after trading away an elite receiver might be the final step. But it's likely a team would have seen that opportunity by now. If the Colts or Cardinals are waiting for him after the Super Bowl, then it's a great outcome for Bieniemy and the Chiefs. He would finally get his chance to lead a quarterback with potential in Kyler Murray (though coming off injury) or perhaps help draft a quarterback of the future in Indianapolis.
But what happens if those opportunities pass him too?
Much like Marvin Lewis with the 2001 Baltimore Ravens defense, Bieniemy has had incredible coaching and player talent around him. Lewis was a prime candidate for several head coaching jobs for several years but ended up having to leave Baltimore to coordinate another successful defense in Washington before eventually landing the head coaching job in Cincinnati.
An offensive coordinator role elsewhere
Leaving Kansas City might be the best choice for Bieniemy — whose one-year contract is ending — if he really wants to become a head coach. This coaching cycle has featured much more noise toward Bieniemy taking over playcalling for another team.
Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has been requested to interview for the Ravens’ offensive coordinator job, per sources. Bieniemy also remains under consideration for the Colts’ HC job that he has interviewed for, and the Titans’ OC job, amongst other situations.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 29, 2023
There are currently five remaining offensive coordinator roles that make sense for Eric Bieniemy. The Washington Commanders, Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens. All of these teams have a defensive-minded coach who would allow him to take full control of the offense, call plays and mold the offense in his image.
The best of the remaining jobs has to be the Ravens because so long as Lamar Jackson remains on the roster, the ceiling for that offense is incredibly high. Most of the other openings lack a star quarterback but do feature some offensive talent.
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
For the Chiefs, they have a former offensive coordinator and head coach Matt Nagy waiting in the wings if or when Bieniemy leaves. Mahomes has been very vocal in his support for Matt Nagy, having him back in the building after his head coaching stint in Chicago. Many people have speculated that this support might make Nagy the head coach in waiting for the Chiefs.
That is significant when you consider a 64-year-old head coach Andy Reid might have an opportunity to retire after winning a second super bowl. Though, let's be clear: there has been no news that points to that as a possibility.
Despite all of the success, a parting of ways between Bieniemy and the Chiefs might be the best for all involved. At this point, we all can agree that we hope he finally gets the opportunity so many believe he deserves.