It was never a secret that Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie didn’t want to fire Andy Reid in 2012. He caved under mounting pressure from the media and fans to dismiss the most successful coach in franchise history.
And the team never used the word “fire” when talking about his dismissal in either print or verbal communications. In fact, Lurie threw the hamburger-obsessed coach a festive going-away party before he embarked on an exhaustive coaching search. Perhaps the introspective owner still regrets letting Reid walk out that door, something that seems more and more obvious the longer the Eagles’ current coaching search drags on.
Reid has transformed the Kansas City Chiefs into the newest NFL dynasty, thanks in large part to his decision to draft Patrick Mahomes in 2017. The Eagles won a Super Bowl with Reid’s old offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson, and had been sniffing around the Chiefs coaching staff once again by looking at Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka. But Kafka is not interested in the job — or, Reid won’t permit him to interview — as Josh McDaniels and Duce Staley have emerged as two finalists.
Wait, there’s another candidate. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has guided the NFL’s top-ranked total offense in 2020 and 2018 (sixth-best in 2019). The Eagles initially requested an interview with Bieniemy, then pulled it back (via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler). He remains in consideration for the vacant head-coaching gig with the Houston Texans. For now.
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Reid Hopes Bieniemy Lands ‘NFC’ Coaching Job
There were seven head-coaching vacancies when the 2020 season ended and that number has dwindled down to two. Bieniemy has been a hot name in NFL circles for three years now but has yet to cash in with a top job. Are teams reluctant to hire a black head coach? It sure seems that way on the surface.
Four of the seven open jobs have been filled by white guys — Dan Campbell (Lions), Arthur Smith (Falcons), Brandon Staley (Chargers), Urban Meyer (Jaguars) — while Robert Saleh (Jets) is of Lebanese-American descent and the first Muslim head coach in the NFL. No black coaches have been hired at this time.
While Reid wouldn’t get into the racial optics, the Chiefs boss did provide a ringing endorsement for his top assistant. Reid also hinted at where he would like to see Bieniemy land, joking that “I hope he goes to the NFC.”
Was the former Eagles coach sending a subliminal message to Lurie? It could be interpreted that way since Philly is the only NFC team left standing without a coach.
Here is what Reid told reporters after the AFC Championship Game, as transcribed by CBS Sports:
I mean everybody knows what I think of Eric and what kind of head coach I think he’d be. Maybe the best I think I can tell you is I hope he goes to the NFC when he has that opportunity,” Reid said to reporters Monday. “Whoever gets him I think is a very lucky organization, one of the few people that I’ve come across with the leadership skills that he has, the ability to lead men in this crazy game that we’re in and for those guys through his leadership to play at a Pro Bowl level.
When he gets his hands on you, figuratively, he does wonders with athletes, and he’s able to maximize their abilities on the field and he gives them that extra boost to be a productive person off the field and somebody I would have loved for my son to have played for.
Bieniemy’s Agent Takes Shot at NFL’s Lack of Diversity
The odds aren’t looking good on Bieniemy scoring a job during this hiring cycle. There are only two teams left in need of head coaches: Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles. The Texans are still in the mix for Bieniemy, especially if they want to placate their disgruntled franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. But the Eagles seem intent on bypassing the former NFL running back who spent one season (1999) in a midnight green jersey.
On Monday, not coincidentally Martin Luther King Day, the agency that represents Bieniemy took a shot at the league on social media. They specifically mentioned the Eagles’ organization since it was widely assumed the franchise would be hiring McDaniels as their next head coach. Nothing is set in stone, but Bieniemy’s quest to land a head-coaching job in 2021 appears over. It’s unfortunate.