Why offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy left the Chiefs for the Commanders

The Washington Commanders know offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy can’t bring quarterback Patrick Mahomes with him. But they’d be happy if Bieniemy could replicate some of the offensive success the two shared with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Washington has hired Bieniemy. He left Kansas City after five seasons in the same role, but he will be the primary caller in Washington, something he didn’t do with the Chiefs.

He arrives to lead a unit that has struggled for most of the past six years, failing to finish off an offense ranked in the top 15 in points or yards during that time.

It’s no coincidence that Washington has made one postseason appearance during that time.

As Kansas City’s offensive coordinator for the past five years, Bieniemy has coached in 14 playoff games. Meanwhile, Washington has played in 10 playoff games since winning the Super Bowl after the 1991 season.

If Bieniemy is successful in his new role, commanders could increase that total in 2023.

What does this mean for Washington?

It means the team will switch its offense from the Scott Turner-led system to the West Coast offense that Bieniemy has worked with over the past 10 seasons under Chiefs coach Andy Reid, first as running backs coach and then as offensive coordinator at Kansas City. There is a lot of crossover with the offenses, so it will be more about learning the terminology than anything else.

The other question will be which offensive coaches will remain on the staff. Washington coach Ron Rivera wants to limit trades as much as possible to ease the transition, particularly for quarterback Sam Howell. He is coming off a rookie season in which he played in one game and attempted 19 passes.

“I’m not worried about his learning ability,” Rivera said. “Learning the offense we had really put a lot on a young guy and he handled it very well early on. I guess he won’t have any problems. He’s also the type of guy who can work with his teammates and help them develop and grow as well “. — John Keim

What does this mean for Kansas City?

The Chiefs have a succession plan with Matt Nagy most likely taking over as offensive coordinator. Nagy, the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach last season, was their coordinator in 2016 and 2017 before leaving to become head coach of the Chicago Bears. So the transition should be as seamless as possible for Mahomes and the offense, particularly since Reid will keep his sizable presence. — Adam Teicher

Why would Bieniemy leave KC for a lateral move?

Reid’s shadow wasn’t an obstacle for Doug Pederson or Nagy, his first two offensive coordinators after joining the Chiefs. Each went on from there to head coaching jobs, Pederson with the Philadelphia Eagles and Nagy with the Bears. But for some reason, it seems to be a problem for Bieniemy in his search for an NFL head coaching job. Perhaps moving away from Reid and Mahomes and having success with the Commanders will make him a more attractive head coaching candidate.

Even Reid seemed to suggest it, saying Monday: “I hope he gets a chance to go somewhere and do his thing where he can run the show and be Eric Bieniemy.” teacher

Will this increase Bieniemy’s chances of landing a head coaching job?

If you succeed, you have to increase your chances. Let’s put it this way: it certainly won’t hurt. And if he does well, he eliminates a problem against him, that he wasn’t a full-time player in Kansas City and that the Chiefs’ offensive success came from Reid and Mahomes.

He’s been in the running for other jobs, but the lack of snaps was a hindrance. He now has that opportunity and he will let his work speak for itself.

The hard part for him is that he might have a season to prove himself in that role. Rivera will enter what must be considered a must-win season with a coordinator running his own program for the first time along with an inexperienced quarterback in Howell. It’s a combination that requires patience during the transition. — Keim

Why did the Commanders choose Bieniemy?

He’s passionate and demanding, qualities that can help jump-start an offense that hasn’t produced a top-15 ranking in points or yards since 2016. His style could help. Before Super Bowl LVII, Mahomes said, “Make sure you have an Eric Bieniemy in your life because he’s going to make sure you’re ready.”

Bieniemy comes from a system that was highly productive. And Washington liked how the Chiefs used his talent, feeling his size and style compared favorably to what the Commanders have in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. Washington liked the creative way the Chiefs maneuvered his talent to give them better opportunities.

It also helped that Bieniemy trained with Reid for so long. Rivera coached Reid for five seasons in Philadelphia and the two remain friends. Rivera has often sought Reid’s advice and his recommendation would carry a lot of weight. — Keim

Who else was in the running for the job?

Washington interviewed seven other candidates: Pat Shurmur (not currently on a team), Ken Zampese, quarterbacks coach for the Commanders, Charles London, quarterbacks coach/passing play coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, Eric Studesville, associate head coach/running back coach for the Miami Dolphins, Eric Studesville, assistant head coach for the San Francisco 49ers. head coach/running coach Anthony Lynn, former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Los Angeles Rams assistant head coach/tight ends coach Thomas Brown. Zampese was the only coach on Washington’s staff to be interviewed. — Keim

What does Bieniemy bring to the Commanders’ offense?

Commanders are getting a detail-oriented offensive coordinator who will train their players hard. Players tell stories of how Bieniemy insists on the seemingly smallest details and makes sure to cover as many game situations as possible.

“He’s bringing it in and it’s every day,” Reid said. “It doesn’t let anything go.”

On being a coach who emphasizes details, Bieniemy said: “I take a lot of pride in making sure everything is dotted, crossed T’s and everything is absolute.”

After the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII victory over the Eagles, Mahomes credited Bieniemy for running back Jerick McKinnon sliding at the 1-yard line to set up the game-winning field goal, rather than scoring a touchdown. and leave time on the clock for the Eagles to respond. Mahomes said Bieniemy repeatedly covers that scenario.

“Although we sometimes get tired of hearing and talking about those moments, they always seem to happen in the biggest games and he makes sure we go over the details every week,” Mahomes said. teacher

What does Bieniemy have to work with in Washington?

He has three skilled receivers in McLaurin, Samuel and Dotson, two solid running backs in Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr. and plenty of questions.

Rivera has said Howell will enter spring training as the starting quarterback. Washington quite liked Howell before the 2022 draft, but he wasn’t going to take him because he had traded for Carson Wentz. But when he was there in the fifth round, the commanders pounced. If they hadn’t traded for Wentz, they might have taken him in the second or third round.

But while they like Howell, the fact remains that he has attempted 19 passes in the NFL. And this would also be the second offense he has had to learn in two years. Washington also needs to improve its offensive line, possibly adding two or three starters. — Keim

What does Bieniemy’s hiring mean ahead of the likely Commanders sale?

It’s hard to fully know what that means, but it’s hard to imagine anyone coming here unless they were comfortable with Rivera training here in 2023. It’s one thing to try to bring in an established coach like Sean Payton, as he said, a potential group owner tried to do; another is to carry out a search that included the best attendees.

The other factor that some have mentioned in Bieniemy’s favor is that with the new owners, perhaps he could earn the job after this season if they wanted to fire Rivera. But there are some sticking points here. If Bieniemy’s offense does well, Washington is likely to have a good season, and Rivera would stick around. If the Commanders’ offense struggles, it would be hard to promote Bieniemy or anyone else outside of this staff. Perhaps if Washington’s offense becomes explosive, but the team still finishes around .500 and the owners want a trade, then Bieniemy has a stronger case for taking over. — Keim

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