The Kansas City Chiefs are through to the AFC Championship for the fifth-straight season and to no surprise, rivals are eyeing their coaching staff.
On January 22, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler tweeted that “among [the] prominent coaching names I’m hearing are firmly on [the] [Baltimore] Ravens’ radar for offensive coordinator: Former [Indianapolis] Colts head coach Frank Reich, Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy and former [Tampa Bay] Bucs OC Byron Leftwich.”
Why Would Eric Bieniemy Take a Different OC Job Away From Chiefs?
Some of you might be asking yourselves, why would “E.B.” leave Kansas City to become an offensive coordinator elsewhere? Lateral moves like that are certainly uncommon, especially when there are no internal issues at the previous post.
Well, this is a very unique situation. As Chiefs fans know, Bieniemy has long been rumored as a top candidate for a head coaching promotion and yet, he has never received an offer despite interviewing time and time again.
The exact reason for that is unknown. Some have challenged that this is a race-related issue rooted within the core of the NFL, and it very well could be. Others have speculated that perhaps Bieniemy does not interview well, or maybe deep playoff runs by the Chiefs have pushed organizations to pursue more available candidates.
Of course, there’s another possibility. Both head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes II are so highly regarded that it’s actually a slight against Bieniemy, who does not have sole ownership of the Chiefs’ play-calling responsibilities. Having said that, you don’t need to call plays to lead men as an NFL HC.
Whatever the reason may be — if there is one — a lateral move from E.B. could help him differentiate himself as a coach, further padding his track record. A new challenge, if you will, and rebranding Lamar Jackson could be the perfect landing spot for Bieniemy after coaching Mahomes.
Chiefs’ Eric Bieniemy Is Focused on Playoff Run
When addressing the media ahead of the Divisional Round, Bieniemy made it clear that he’s not worried about any distractions right now — and that includes potential coaching promotions for himself or any other staff members.
Despite announcing that at the start of the press conference, reporters still chose to politely pester Bieniemy about getting head coaching interest in 2023.
E.B. responded: “I’ll say this. It’s always good to be recognized and always great to have that opportunity, but right now, it’s gametime. We’ll worry about that when it’s time to take care of that but yes, it’s always good to be recognized for that.”
He added: “Do I believe that I’m qualified? Yes, I do, but that’s not the issue right now. The issue is making sure that we’re taking care of business, that I’m doing my part and being accountable to those guys [in the locker room] who are counting on me to be available and be at my best when my best is needed.”
Bieniemy will be a free agent at the end of the 2022-23 playoff run, having only signed a one-year extension with the Chiefs last winter.
Lamar Jackson Given Power in Ravens’ OC Search
According to the Raven brass, superstar QB Lamar Jackson will have a say in who Baltimore chooses to hire at offensive coordinator after the franchise chose to part ways with Greg Roman. This means Jackson will most likely stay put in 2023 and beyond, amid trade speculation around the league.
While Jackson has never gotten the better of Mahomes and the Chiefs in the playoffs, he has sometimes proven to be a thorn in their side during the regular season. Having him remain in the AFC is trouble enough, but adding Bieniemy as his play-caller could reinvigorate the former NFL MVP.
With Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence emerging among others, this conference is tougher than ever in 2022. Assuming Jackson is healthy next year, a potential Ravens upgrade at OC could be a dangerous wildcard to throw into the equation.