The New Orleans Saints have chosen their next head coach and it will not be Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Last night on February 7, NFL insider Adam Schefter announced that the “Saints have informed their defensive coordinator Dennis Allen that they are hiring him as their next head coach.”
This closed the book on a long list of coaching hires in 2022 and once again, Bieniemy was left without a promotion. Soon, he could also be without a contract.
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Bieniemy’s Contract With KC Set to Expire
Shortly after the news that Allen would take over in New Orleans, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reminded everyone that “Bieniemy’s contract is expiring” with the Chiefs.
“So after getting passed over for head coaching opportunities again, Bieniemy could either return to Kansas City or be a hot free-agent OC target elsewhere,” he added. Beat reporter Sam McDowell explained that “Bieniemy was on a one-year contract, which he signed after last year’s Super Bowl.”
This leaves the accomplished OC at a crossroads. After recently being named as an example in the Brian Flores lawsuit against the NFL and its hiring process, ‘E.B.’ is no closer to becoming a head coach.
As far as I can tell, he now has two options. Stay with Patrick Mahomes in KC and wait out Andy Reid’s eventual retirement — which could be another five years or so in theory — or attempt to prove himself with another franchise in 2022.
Two of the typical knocks on Bieniemy are that he doesn’t have full control of playcalling duties and that he benefits from the advantage of having Mahomes at quarterback. I’m not saying either of those critiques are accurate, but the OC could silence them both once and for all by having success somewhere else.
It would be a somewhat risky career move but at least Bieniemy would be betting on himself, rather than repeating the same process over and over. The Saints Wire editor John Sigler even speculated that NOLA could still be the perfect fit.
“Dennis Allen wanting to hire a new OC and Eric Bieniemy’s Chiefs’ contract is expiring?” He tweeted.
It’s still likely that the fan-favorite coordinator will return home to Chiefs Kingdom but the franchise has yet to report on that officially. Until then, the NFL world will continue to debate the curious case of Mr. Bieniemy.
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Outrage Over E.B.
As you can imagine, many are upset that Bieniemy was passed up once again. Although the Saints were the final straw, there were nine vacancies this winter and most didn’t even bother interviewing the Super Bowl champion OC.
Of course, there is also the issue of race. Only two minority candidates were hired this cycle — Mike McDaniel and Lovie Smith. That means there are currently five minority head coaches in the NFL. The list includes Mike Tomlin, Ron Rivera, Robert Saleh, and the two new hires.
In the case of Allen over Bieniemy, New Orleans columnist Jeff Duncan wrote: “Dennis Allen had inherent advantages over the other candidates for the Saints coaching job because he met 2 main criteria that Loomis valued in his search: Head coaching experience. Allen > Bieniemy, Glenn, Rizzi. Familiarity with Saints’ system. Allen > Bieniemy, Flores, Pederson.”
Sports contributor Josh Webb didn’t buy that explanation. “So, he basically picked two characteristics that Dennis Allen had and others didn’t and then used them as his bar for hiring. Seems totally fair to a guy like Eric Bienemy, who interviewed for this job but clearly was never taken seriously as a candidate based on this report,” he responded.
Journalist Chuck Modi was even more direct with his outrage. He voiced: “Dennis Allen hired over Eric Bieniemy. 1—As Raiders HC, Allen was 8-28. 2—As OC, EB went to 4 straight conference title gms. Do I believe: —Allen is hired if he was Black? No. —EB is still not hired if white? No. —That BOTH these events can occur if race is flipped? HELL NO!”
Lance Twidell — founder of “The Spoken” podcast — detailed some other hires as well: “Dennis Allen’s HC record is 8-28, HC again. Josh McDaniels HC record is 11-17 PLUS made the Colts look like fools, HC again. Mike McDaniel didn’t call plays in SF, Nathaniel Hackett didn’t call plays in GB, both HCs. Yet Eric Bieniemy still waits for his 1st shot as an HC.”
Finally, author Howard Bryant went after the QB argument. He questioned: “In both the case of Leftwich and Bienemy, I’ve heard the criticism that both have had the luxury of benefiting from offensively stacked franchises – Mahomes/Reid in KC, Brady/Arians in TB – and yet what is Josh McDaniels’ resume without Tom Brady?”