Commanders hire former Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy

Eric Bieniemy has been with the Kansas City Chiefs since 2013. (Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

Eric Bieniemy is finalizing a deal to leave the Kansas City Chiefs to become the offensive coordinator of the Washington Commanders, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Bieniemy spent the past five seasons as the Chiefs offensive coordinator, where he helped Patrick Mahomes blossom into a two-time MVP and five-time Pro Bowler. He also helped guide Kansas City to three Super Bowl appearances and two victories, most recently the 38-35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Despite his success, Bieniemy was never hired to be a head coach even after his two Chiefs’ predecessors – Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy – both earned top jobs following their respective tenures under Andy Reid. Bieniemy interviewed a plethora of times by half of the leagues’ clubs since 2019, including a 2023 interview with the Indianapolis Colts. But every time, he was passed over.

This comes even after his offense out-dogged the offense led by now-Colts head coach Shane Steichen and flummoxed the defense led by now-Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon — both in Super Bowl LVII. Though much has been speculated about Bieniemy’s role in Reid’s offense – both as a play-caller and as a strategist — Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne told The Athletic it was Bieniemy who designed the two second-half red zone touchdowns which helped Kansas City come back to beat the Eagles.

“[Bieniemy] put it on tape and said: ‘Hey, like, if they do this, this guy is wide open. It’s man [coverage],’” Henne said. “They’re just trying to protect themselves from the jet sweep and trying to bubble over the top and get an extra player [on the other side of the field]. But we faked the jet twice, and they didn’t figure it out.”

Mahomes also added that Bieniemy made sure running back Jerick McKinnon went down in-bounds instead of scoring late in the game to set up Harrison Butker’s winning field goal.

“I want to give the credit to Eric Bieniemy,” Mahomes said, “because even though sometimes we get tired of them talking about those moments, they always seem to happen in the biggest games. And he makes sure we go through the details about them every single week.”

Now, Bieniemy will likely take full control of the Commanders’ offense under head coach Ron Rivera, who has a background in defense. Washington isn’t loaded with talent on offense, but receivers Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel as well as Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson out of the backfield are all intriguing playmakers.

The quarterback position will be the most important question to answer, though. Sam Howell, the team’s 2022 fifth-round pick could earn the starting job, but the Commanders could also acquire a more proven veteran this offseason in free agency or via a trade.

Bieniemy’s fingerprints will likely be all over whatever Washington does in 2023, which could perhaps reshape the narrative around his viability as an NFL head coach sooner rather than later.