Michael Rand: If Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy is passed over again, NFL will need to confront ugly truth

Michael Rand, Star Tribune on

Published in Football

It's hard to say exactly what is more insulting or ludicrous: A tweeted report suggesting there's a "very strong chance" Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy won't get a head coaching job again this offseason OR the reasons offered for that suggestion.

The tweet in question from The Draft Scout's Matt Miller:

"Been texting with an NFL source this morning who thinks there's a very strong chance Eric Bieniemy isn't hired for a HC opportunity this cycle," Miller tweeted. "Cites concern about Reid's coaching tree and timing w/Chiefs expected to make another SB run"

First, the fact that Bieniemy — the former Vikings running backs coach under Brad Childress who is now in charge of the NFL's best offense and most dangerous QB, Patrick Mahomes —stands to get passed over for an opportunity again is absurd on merit.

Among the most obvious hires a team in need of a coach can make is to nab a high-level assistant from another team. There's none better than Bieniemy, whose offense fueled last year's Super Bowl run and has Kansas City in position to go back-to-back this year. Head coach Andy Reid calls the plays? Sure. But he's also praised Bieniemy for his acumen and leadership.

Beyond that, though, the two specific reasons outlined for passing him over are even more ridiculous (and note: this is not to blame Miller, who is merely the messenger).

Concerns about the Andy Reid coaching tree? Those branches are full of Super Bowl-winning coaches like John Harbaugh and Doug Pederson, plus coaches who have turned teams around like Sean McDermott and Matt Nagy. Compared to, say, the Bill Belichick coaching tree it's even more successful.


And yet Belichick assistants keep getting hired — some of them right after the Super Bowl, which brings us to the second assertion: that teams don't want to wait on Bieniemy because Kansas City might still be playing for a few more weeks.

Again, nonsense. Go back two cycles ago and you'll find assistants for the Patriots (Brian Flores) and Rams (Zac Taylor) who were named head coaches. The year before that, OC Frank Reich was hired by the Colts after leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl title. The year before that, OC Kyle Shanahan was hired by the 49ers after he helped the Falcons reach the Super Bowl.

Teams wait for the best candidates all the time. Because, you know, hiring a coach that helped a team reach the Super Bowl is a good mark on a resume.

There's no guarantee that Bieniemy will succeed as a head coach, but there is ample evidence that he deserves a chance.

Maybe the Texans will end up doing the right thing. They've added Bieniemy to their list of head coach interview candidates, quite possibly as a means of repairing their relationship with QB Deshaun Watson.

But if Bieniemy, who is Black, is passed by again this offseason the NFL will be left to confront an ugly truth: race still plays a role in how a lot of teams view candidates and keeps minorities from getting jobs they deserve.

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