With the firing of former Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, followed by the termination of Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, the NFL coaching carousel got off to an early start in the COVID contaminated 2020 NFL season. While most of you reading this could care less about the open Atlanta Falcons job, this little tidbit from ESPN’s Jeremy Brenner should be of interest to you:
Houston definitely has interest, and some believe Bieniemy could already be the front-runner there. The quarterback, overall roster talent and organizational structure will be important to him, and the Texans can offer that, with the willingness to tie a new general manager to the coach. Bieniemy is the marquee Rooney Rule candidate in a year with revamped rules to encourage the hiring of Black coaches. He’s far from the only qualified coordinator or assistant coach. Hiring Bieniemy should be the floor for diversity hiring this year.
For those who don’t know who Bieniemy is, here’s a Cliff Notes history lesson. A former Colorado Buffaloes All-American running back, Bieniemy played in the NFL for 9 seasons, for the San Diego Chargers (where he played in the 1994 Super Bowl), Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles. For those old enough to remember Tecmo Bowl, Bieniemy was money in the bank in goal line and short yardage situations.
After retiring from the NFL, he rejoined his alma mater as their running backs coach before heading to UCLA. At the end of his fourth year at the NCAA level, Bieniemy joined the Minnesota Vikings in 2006 as their running backs coach and is widely credited with developing generational talent Adrian Peterson into a future Hall of Fame running back. He later earned the assistant head coach/offense in his final season with the Vikings. After he returned to Colorado once more as their offensive coordinator, Andy Reid hired him to join the Kansas City Chiefs staff as the running backs coach in 2013 before elevating him to offensive coordinator in 2018, where he’s been ever since.
Bieniemy was a hot name in coaching searches last season and many believe he should have landed one of the available jobs in 2019.
Undoubtedly the biggest snub of last year’s cycle, Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator of the best offense in football, has returned in that same role this year. Here is a coach who has had his hands on the development of Patrick Mahomes, who sits at the Andy Reid altar and, at times, calls plays. He interviewed with the Panthers and Giants, among others, at the end of the 2020 cycle. There is a belief that this will be a make-or-break year for Bieniemy’s candidacy. Will Andy Reid’s Super Bowl credentials add more heft to his impressive résumé?
While it might be easy to draw superficial parallels between Bieniemy and pre-Texans Bill O’Brien, with both having a solid college coaching resume and contributing to a Super Bowl winning NFL franchise with a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Bieniemy’s ability to develop Adrian Peterson and Patrick Mahomes is undeniable, whereas Bill O’Brien has been widely panned for holding back Texans franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Unlike O’Brien, Bieniemy has also succeeded in multiple destinations, with the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs. He’s one of an elite class of coaches who both played in and coached in a Super Bowl. It’s undeniable that the former Heisman Trophy finalist is ready to ascend.
The Chiefs’ offensive coordinator has been on the head-coach interview circuit the past couple of years but hasn’t managed to get one of the jobs. His contract expires at the end of the season. The Chiefs would love to have him back, but they know he’s probably gone.
While the current narrative is second-time head coaches are the way to go, anyone who has followed the NFL for any amount of time knows the narrative changes faster than Adam Schefter’s latest tweet. No matter what’s trendy, there’s always someone who rises up against the narrative and succeeds in spite of current trends.
Could Bieniemy do that this year? Is he the coach Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Laremy Tunsil, and the rest of the Houston Texans need? Only time will tell. If you were emperor of the universe, would you hire Bieniemy? Or would you go with someone else? Who do you want to coach the Glorious People’s Football Team of Texas?