File this under: We can dream, can’t we?
The Super Bowl is over, and the staff of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs is up for grabs. We already saw Eagles defensive and offensive coordinators Jonathan Gannon and Shane Steichen leave Philly for head coaching jobs with Arizona and the Indianapolis Colts.
In the twilight of Ben Roethlisberger‘s career, anytime a decent quarterback became available, Pittsburgh Steelers fans clamored for him. The same goes for offensive coordinator, as Matt Canada is, let’s just say, disliked by pretty much everyone outside of the organization.
Enter: Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is always a hot commodity this time of year. With his contract in Kansas City expired, he’s interviewing (Baltimore Ravens, Washington Commanders) for a new gig. Steelers analyst and podcaster Mike Nicastro (and almost every Steelers fan) call for Pittsburgh to “walk back their stance” on Canada and hire Bieniemy.
Steelers Wire’s Curt Popejoy added that Pittsburgh would be the perfect landing spot for Bienemy. “The Steelers have floundered the last two seasons with Matt Canada as the offensive coordinator,” he wrote. “The Steelers offense is loaded with talented young skill players who could really benefit from the innovation and football mind of Bieniemy… There would be no limits to what this group could do if given the opportunity with Bieniemy in charge.”
Eric Bienemy Floated as Steelers’ new Assistant Head Coach
Mike Tomlin’s assistant head coach John Mitchell retired on February 15, giving the Steelers a perfect opportunity to bring Eric Bieniemy in to fill that role. Popejoy sees it as similar to former senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach Brian Flores, who took a defensive coordinator role with the Minnesota Vikings on February 6.
“Just like last season when the Steelers added Brian Flores to the staff, head coach Mike Tomlin could bring Bieniemy in as the team’s assistant head coach as a promotion over being an offensive coordinator and let Bieniemy get this young Steelers offense working to its full potential,” Popejoy wrote.
“This might mean Tomlin would have to swallow his pride a little and it would likely mean Bieniemy would only be around for a single season, as was Flores. Putting all that aside, getting an offensive guru like Bieniemy would be worth all that and whatever the team had to pay him.”
Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Has Issues with Hiring Good Coaches
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s November 2022 announcement that no staff changes were coming didn’t keep fans from hoping Canada would be sent packing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and the sensitive topic seems to rear its ugly head every time a new offensive coordinator is available (see: Bieniemy).
Let’s get real here. It’s a pipedream. While it appears Bieniemy will make a lateral move — perhaps and unfortunately to archrival Ravens — it’s unlikely to be to the Steelers.
His resume is sprinkled with accolades, including two Super Bowls in four seasons, five of which were under one of the best in the business, Andy Reid. In those seasons, the former NFL running back has interviewed with various teams for head coaching positions — every coordinator’s dream — but has left without a contract. This time, reports have surfaced stating Bieniemy is looking to make a lateral move. He’d get out from behind the shadow of Reid with the ultimate goal of succeeding in his own system and without Patrick Mahomes. Such a feat would undoubtedly make him a prime candidate for a future head coach vacancy.
But history shows that Tomlin has the final say on personnel and has issues with hiring good coaches. “A weak staff means Tomlin is always the smartest guy in the room. It seems calculated,” TribLive’s Mark Madden wrote in January 2022. “It’s all Tomlin, all the time. He’s a megalomaniac.”
Since Matt Canada was retained in January, we’ll never know whether Bieniemy would’ve been a candidate for the Steelers. But if what’s being suggested about Tomlin is true, the answer to that is no.