For the first time since quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the starter, the 2023 Kansas City Chiefs will not feature Eric Bieniemy barking from the sideline as the team’s offensive coordinator.
Bieniemy now employs his loud, intense coaching style on players for the Washington Commanders, who hired him as their offensive coordinator during the offseason. But Bieniemy’s boisterous passion apparently hasn’t been received as well as it was in Kansas City.
Ron Rivera: Some Commanders players struggled to adjust to Eric Bieniemy's intensity. https://t.co/xwoyNn9Icq— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 8, 2023
Players expressed concern about Bieniemy’s style to head coach Ron Rivera, who shared that with reporters. Specifically, Rivera said some were concerned the new coach was riding them too hard.
It’s simple: Bieniemy represents a culture shock that was much needed in Washington. The franchise hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2016. His fierceness is the first step in turning around the offense, which ranked 24th in scoring last season.
That’s why Bieniemy is coming in hot, coaching his players the best way he knows how. And as far as Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes is concerned, Bieniemy’s way was always OK in his book.
“EB is going to be harsh on you,” said Mahomes after Friday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “He’s going to really try and get the best out of you every single day. He’s going to hold you accountable when you don’t want to hold yourself accountable.
“[His coaching] made me a better player.”
There are many people who shared in Mahomes’ development — but none of them pushed the quarterback like Bieniemy did. Since both are incredibly passionate people, it often led to animated discussions on the sidelines.
That passion was on full display during Mahomes’ remarks, which vehemently defended the coach with whom he has worked for the last five seasons. Mahomes wasn’t going to quit until he had fully corrected what he considers to be an exaggerated perception of the former Kansas City assistant coach.
“He’s your No. 1 supporter,” declared Mahomes. “He will go to war with you — just like any other guy on the team. You have to know that when he’s talking to you on the football field: he’s trying to get the best out of you. He’s not trying to put you down; he’s trying to push you to be even better than you think you can be.”
Mahomes’ speaking cadence continued to increase as he feverishly defended his team’s former offensive coordinator — and made it clear that many of those who have played for the 53-year-old coach have similar thoughts.
“There’s a reason why he’s coaching you the way he’s coaching you: he loves you,” insisted Mahomes. “He loves every guy that he coaches. You can see that [from] all the guys that have come out and said stuff about him: Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Tyreek [Hill] — they understand that he loves you and he’s going to try to get the best out of you every single day.”
Head coach Andy Reid also defended his former coach (and player) on Friday, assuring Washington stakeholders that the results will be worth the hard-nosed process.
“We always talk about letting your personality show,” noted Reid. “I think that’s an important part of it. When it’s all said and done, I think the guys will appreciate it... They’ll appreciate it when they’re winning games.”
If there was any doubts that Mahomes valued Bieniemy as a coach, his impassioned words about him should eliminate them. The quarterback has perfected “coach speak” (and canned answers) in press conferences. But on Friday, he let himself ramble — and for good reason: Bieniemy wants his teams to win.
His former players and coaches also want him to win — and they recognize how he is going to get that done.
Soon enough, his new team will know that, too.