Eric Bieniemy is joining Ron Rivera’s staff as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Washington Commanders, Bieniemy’s agent, Jason Fletcher, told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Bieniemy spent the past decade with the Kansas City Chiefs, starting as a running backs coach before taking over as offensive coordinator in 2018. Under his tutelage, Kansas City had the best offense in three of five seasons and won two Super Bowls.
The Chiefs wanted to retain Bieniemy, but ultimately couldn’t compete with Washington’s offer which includes an upgraded title, pay raise, the opportunity to build his own staff and call his own plays, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
That last piece of the deal could play a significant role in Bieniemy’s decision. According to Yahoo Sports, the 53-year-old has had 17 head coaching interviews with 16 different teams over the past couple of years.
In the most recent interview cycle featuring five available vacancies, the Indianapolis Colts were the lone franchise to interview Bieniemy, advancing him to the second round before going with former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. Another one of the vacancies was filled by Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon who was named head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, despite losing to Bieniemy’s Chiefs.
This history of being passed over has created a cloud of confusion, with some alleging it points to the NFL’s record of discrimination against Black coaches. The Texans’ DeMeco Ryans was the lone Black candidate hired this interview cycle.
Bieniemy has also lived in the shadow of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. The two joined the franchise the same year and Reid is often credited for the play-calling of this prolific offense.
A change out of Kansas City seemed to be anticipated by those within the franchise.
Speaking before the Super Bowl – with several head coaching positions still available -- quarterback Patrick Mahomes said a promotion for Bieniemy is “past deserved.”
“He’s done everything the right way. He’s been a part of this offense and this team for so long holds everyone accountable and is creative in making up plays for us. I don’t know why he hasn’t been hired, but it’s been great for us.”
Reid also extended his support to Bieniemy in an interview the day after the Chiefs won Super Bowl LVII.
“I’m hoping he has an opportunity to go somewhere and do his thing, where he can run the show and be Eric Bieniemy.”
While the Chiefs reportedly hoped to keep Bieniemy on staff, they seem to have prepared for this reality and are expected to promote Matt Nagy as their next offensive coordinator. Nagy previously held the role in 2016 and 2017 before taking over the reins with the Chicago Bears. He was fired after four seasons in Chicago and returned to Kansas City as a senior assistant and quarterbacks coach under his predecessor Bieniemy.
By joining Rivera, a defensive-minded coach, Bieniemy is expected to have more autonomy and opportunity over the offense. That freedom to create will be much needed in Washington as they try to build on an 8-8 season.
Despite posting the franchise’s best record since 2016, the Commanders struggled with consistency and an offensive identity, in part due to a finger injury to starting quarterback Carson Wentz that kept him sidelined for eight weeks.
They finished the season averaging 330.3 yards per game, well under the Chiefs’ league-leading average of 413.6.
Once the ink dries on this contract, expect the league to keep an eye on Washington’s offense under Bieniemy.