The New Orleans Saints, who are looking for a new head coach, have requested permission to interview Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Bieniemy, a nine-year NFL running back, was a running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings before being the offensive coordinator at Colorado, being hired by the Chiefs in 2013, and then being promoted to Chiefs offensive coordinator in 2018.
Status of the Saints’ head coach search
Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is regarded as the favorite to land the job, per league sources. Nonetheless, general manager Mickey Loomis is running a wide-open search. Now, that search will include an interview with Bieniemy.
Loomis interviewed former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl all-star game in Mobile, Alabama, which was preceded by a dinner meeting Monday night. The Saints have also interviewed Doug Pederson (who is now the head coach of the Jaguars) and Aaron Glenn. In addition, they have Allen, Darren Rizzi, and Byron Leftwich on their list.
Whoever the next head coach of the Saints is — whether Bieniemy or someone else — will have big shoes to fill. Sean Payton coached the Saints for 15 seasons and won one Super Bowl.
“I think we are a desirable place, and we are desirable for a lot of reasons,” Loomis said this week.
Bieniemy has been on the interview circuit for several years
Bieniemy, 52, has been highly sought-after for interviews for years. But the former NFL running back and longtime Chiefs offensive coordinator has perpetually not landed offers for head coaching positions.
He was referenced in the class-action lawsuit filed by Flores as an example of allegedly discriminatory hiring practices. However, Bieniemy hasn’t joined the lawsuit.
Bieniemy, an Andy Reid protégé, interviewed for the Houston Texans’ job in 2021. That ultimately went to David Culley, who was fired after a 4-13 record this past season. That year, he also interviewed for openings with the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
This offseason, Bieniemy interviewed for the Denver Broncos’ job and made a strong impression on their search committee, per sources. They ultimately hired former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
What they are saying about Eric Bieniemy, Saints head coach candidate
Here’s what others around the league are saying about Saints head coach candidate Eric Bieniemy. This includes retired NFL coach Tony Dungy and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
Tony Dungy on Bieniemy
“I’ve been around them and seen the dynamic and what he’s done with Andy and he’s got all of the credentials,” retired NFL coach Tony Dungy said in a telephone interview when asked about Bieniemy. “I think it’s how the players relate to Eric. Everybody I’ve talked to in Kansas City says when things are tough, Eric has a way of getting everybody going. He’s the guy you look to when things are difficult. He’s had a very good learning process with Andy Reid. I benefited from being under Chuck Noll for so long. Being around great people and tremendous coaches is so valuable for the development of a coach.
“Eric has certain things he wants to do and he believes in. I feel like whomever hires him is going to get the best of both worlds because he is strong-willed and has that belief in what he wants to do and has learned from a future Hall of Famer in Andy.”
Andy Reid gives a strong endorsement
“I mean everybody knows what I think of Eric and what kind of head coach I think he’d be,” Reid said. “Maybe the best I think I can tell you is I hope he goes to the NFC when he has that opportunity. Whoever gets him, I think is a very lucky organization. One of the few people that I’ve come across with the leadership skills that he has, the ability to lead men in this crazy game that we’re in and for those guys through his leadership to play at a Pro Bowl level.
“When he gets his hands on you, figuratively, he does wonders with athletes. And he’s able to maximize their abilities on the field, and he gives them that extra boost to be a productive person off the field and somebody I would have loved for my son to have played for.”