As expected, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has been busy addressing the future of his career during the team’s first-round bye week. With two head coaching interviews already in the books with the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid confirmed on Monday that Bieniemy is expected to have at least one more meeting this week before Kansas City’s first practice on Thursday.
Of the six NFL clubs currently in search of a new head coach, five have expressed interest in Reid’s top offensive assistant, including the AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers who just parted ways with Anthony Lynn on Monday morning. The lone absentee — the Houston Texans — were once considered one of, if not the singular favorite to hire Bieniemy away from the defending Super Bowl champions.
Early on in the process, it now appears that the club may be moving in a different direction — or at least playing hard to get. According to CBS Sports senior NFL reporter Jonathan Jones on Tuesday, the Texans have yet to reach out about scheduling a formal interview with Bieniemy.
The Texans have still not put in a request for Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, per source
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) January 5, 2021
ESPN’s Adam Schefter also noted the surprising development on Wednesday.
Chiefs' OC Eric Bieniemy interviewed today for the Jaguars' HC job, as well as the Jets' HC position, per source. Bieniemy interviewed for the Chargers' HC job Tuesday, and Atlanta and Detroit on Monday. He now has interviewed for all teams with HC openings — except the Texans.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 6, 2021
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Texans Screening Plenty of Other Candidates
Similar to the head coaching landscape, there are currently six teams looking for their next general manager. A few clubs, Houston included, are in dire need of an overhaul at both positions.
On Tuesday evening, the Texans filled the latter vacancy, reportedly hiring New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio as their next general manager, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The team is also in the process of interviewing at least three head coaching candidates, including Carolina Panthers OC Joe Brady, Tennessee Titans OC Arthur Smith and Indianapolis Colts DC Matt Eberflus. Seattle Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer was also linked to the job in December.
The biggest draw for a candidate considering Houston is likely the prospect of working with Pro Bowl QB Deshaun Watson. The 25-year-old star reportedly advocated for Bieniemy (with Patrick Mahomes’ recommendation) when asked by Texans owner Cal McNair following the firing of Bill O’Brien in October, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
At this point, Watson and company need all the help they can get.
"I'm sorry, we wasted one of your years."
Watt to Watson after a tough season. pic.twitter.com/mcTVK3ZeJG
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) January 5, 2021
Houston Reportedly Still ‘Doing Background’ on Bieniemy
A recent report from Pro Football Network insider Benjamin Allbright confirmed that Houston has at least been doing their homework on the 51-year-old Chiefs coordinator.
“Currently, I think the head coach favorite for [the] Texans is Eric Bieniemy, despite most other teams in the league not being interested. Houston is doing background on him,” Allbright said on PFN Weekly on December 22.
They're doing background. He's got a lot they're gonna have to explain. It's a strong possibility. https://t.co/wsf1HcFBZs
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) December 30, 2020
The Texans’ lack of action thus far does not mean they won’t submit a request to interview Bieniemy soon, but it could be a game of “wait and see” with Kansas City expected to make another deep playoff run, likely delaying his decision until late January or early February.
Are Off-Field Concerns Hurting Bieniemy’s Chances?
Allbright has also cited a recent history of poor interviews and concerns in Bieniemy’s past dating back to the early 1990s.
Choked a female parking attendant, multiple assault accusations, multiple DUIs, fled the scene, recruiting prostitution scandals, I can go on.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) December 30, 2020
While these may be legitimate concerns for teams looking to rebuild their culture to ultimately shy away from Bieniemy, his eight-year tenure with the Chiefs has not brought about any issues, rather some pretty astounding success on the field. When asked about the matter during his most recent press conference, his current boss confirmed as much.
“I think he’s top-notch,” Reid told reporters on Monday, via The Athletic’s Nate Taylor. “At the risk of being redundant, I have not seen many guys that are as great a leader as he is of men. And in this business, that’s huge. You’re never going to have to worry about Eric Bieniemy, never—on the field, off the field. He’s going to be honest with you and straightforward, and then he knows the offense.”
Interestingly enough, at least one sports betting site still lists Bieniemy (+175) as the favorite to land the Houston job as of Monday, doubling up the odds given to Schottenheimer (+350) as the current runner-up. Perhaps they’re bluffing after all.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!