We are reaching the end of the 2021 head coach hiring cycle in the NFL, and question marks remain over whether Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will be a head coach in 2021. With just two head coach openings remaining, the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles, Pro Football Network Chief Draft Analyst and Insider Tony Pauline shed some light on the situation surrounding Eric Bieniemy in the most recent episode of Draft Insiders.
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Could Eric Bieniemy be left on the outside looking when it comes to the Texans and Eagles?
Early in the offseason, Tony Pauline and fellow Pro Football Network Insider Benjamin Allbright tabbed the Houston Texans as the most likely destination for Eric Bieniemy in 2021. However, that has yet to materialize, as Pauline discussed this week.
“I’ve not heard anyone think that he is solidly going to get the job. When Caserio went to Houston, that maybe booted him out.”
With the arrival of a new general manager always comes different ideas. When Nick Caserio was hired, Bieniemy may not have been his first choice as a potential head coach.
Could Deshaun Watson force the issue for Bieniemy in Houston?
However, Pauline mentioned the Houston Texans’ quarterback, Deshaun Watson, could yet have a say in changing that.
“Now, maybe it depends on what happens with Deshaun Watson. Deshaun Watson may demand that Eric Bieniemy gets the job in Houston, as that is the only way he stays.”
Despite the potential of Watson leaving, the Texans may decide that Bieniemy is not the head coach they want leading them: “Although as we heard earlier this week, Adam Schefter reported that there are people in Houston who believe that Deshaun Watson has played his last game there. The team may try and trade him.”
As Allbright reported on this week’s edition of PFN Weekly, the Texans were impressed with Leslie Frazier after his head coach interview. Although, it appears the Texans’ players may prefer Bieniemy as head coach. If that is the case, it leaves the Texans with a tough choice regarding Eric Bieniemy. Do they hire the coach they prefer or the one preferred by the players? A decision of that magnitude has several potential ripple effects in future years.
There are question marks surrounding Bieniemy within the NFL
Bieniemy has been a top name in the media for a head coaching job in the past few years. However, it does not appear to be the same way in the NFL, as Pauline discussed on the show.
“It’s not just that the interviews have been bad. There are a lot of people that feel that he is just not a good head coach prospect, which is why his name gets brought up in the media a lot, but inside league circles, a lot of people do not feel that Eric Bieniemy is real head coaching material.”
The issue surrounding Eric Bieniemy and his interviews is not a new subject. Heading into last season’s coaching cycle, Allbright discussed how Bieniemy’s interview technique was a concern. However, Bieniemy’s coaching history at Colorado, as well as some background concerns, are also potentially raising red flags.
Is it time for Eric Bieniemy to have a chance to prove himself with the Texans or the Eagles?
While there is concern surrounding Bieniemy, a point has to come where he is allowed an opportunity to prove himself. According to Pauline, there are some in the league that feel that way, including Pauline himself.
“Now, there is also a set of people who feel that he deserves a chance.” Pauline agrees with this train of thought. “He (Bieniemy) doesn’t call the plays, but in order to develop Patrick Mahomes, in order to develop that offense, you have got to have a guy there along with Andy Reid, and Eric Bieniemy has been that guy.”
The NFL coaching cycle is famous for seeing the same names getting opportunities repeatedly. The 2021 cycle has generally not seen that. We have seen first-time opportunities for the likes of Robert Saleh, Arthur Smith, and Brandon Staley. Even Urban Meyer is a fresh face in the NFL. However, a name linked with Houston and Philadelphia is a familiar face in NFL circles, Josh McDaniels. Pauline discussed that very situation on the show.
“And the fact is this, if Josh McDaniels is getting talked about as getting another head coaching job in the NFL, Eric Bieniemy absolutely deserves a shot.”
Given that McDaniels is 11-17 as a head coach and has the u-turn with Indianapolis against his name, it is hard to argue that Bieniemy should not get a chance if McDaniels is getting another opportunity.
According to what Pauline is hearing, Bieniemy’s connection to Reid might actually be detrimental to his chances in Philadelphia.
“A lot of people also feel like Andy Reid is really pushing for him to get a job, which may not be working all that well in his favor. In fact, when I asked why Bieniemy was not a hot candidate in Philadelphia, I was told they feel Philadelphia wants to get away from Andy Reid and the Andy Reid protégé.”
Reid himself has won over 60 percent of his games as head coach, including going 130-93-1 with the Eagles. However, his two most recent protégés have been seen to struggle as head coaches. The Eagles just fired Doug Pederson after going 4-11-1 in 2020.
Matt Nagy has also been widely criticized for his offense during his time in Chicago. In those three seasons, the Bears’ offense has been a top-10 unit in points scored just once. They have also finished outside the top 20 in yards gained in all three seasons.
However, this criticism may be a touch unfair. Nagy has never had a losing season as a head coach. Across his three seasons, he is 28-20. Meanwhile, Pederson was 42-37-1 in his five seasons. He also led the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2017 and has just two losing seasons. While those numbers do not stand out as being incredible, they are certainly better than what Josh McDaniels brings to the table.
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