Are the Houston Texans targeting Eric Bieniemy as their next head coach? On this week’s episode of PFN Weekly, Pro Football Network NFL Insider Benjamin Allbright reported that he thinks the head coach favorite in the Houston Texans’ search for a new head coach is Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Allbright had this to say: “Currently, I think the head coach favorite for [the] Texans is Eric Bieniemy, despite most other teams in the league not being interested. Houston is doing background on him.”
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This matches up with what fellow Pro Football Network Insider Tony Pauline has said in the past. Pauline has mentioned that the smart money has been on Bieniemy landing in Houston just a couple of weeks ago.
This week on the Draft Insiders podcast, Pauline informed listeners that if Bieniemy doesn’t land in Houston, the Texans would consider a defensive-minded coach. One such name they would be interested in is Don “Wink” Martindale from the Baltimore Ravens.
Under normal circumstances, the Texans could have a long wait to sign Eric Bieniemy
Allbright mentioned on this week’s show that the head coaching search process has changed this year. This week, teams looking to hire may begin to request virtual interviews with head coaching candidates employed by other teams.
Teams may deny the request, and these are for head coaching jobs only. This goes away from the older rule where teams had to wait until these candidates were through playing before requesting an interview. Under the old rule, the Texans would not be able to talk to Bieniemy until the Chiefs were on a bye in the playoffs.
There may be concerns about Eric Bieniemy’s past
The background investigations Houston is doing into Bieniemy’s character will be critical. There are some legal issues in Bieniemy’s background that will give teams pause in evaluating his character. However, his record as an offensive coordinator prior to his time at Kansas City will also have been a factor teams considered.
Eric Bieniemy’s tenure as the offensive coordinator for Colorado will also likely raise a few question marks.
In his two years as offensive coordinator under Jon Embree (2011-2012), the Buffaloes went 4-21. In 2011, the Buffaloes ranked 109th in points scored (19.8), 92nd in total yards (346.3), and 78th in yards per play (5.3). One of the most concerning elements for the Buffaloes was their discipline. In 2011, they averaged 7.9 penalties per game (tied for second) and 66.6 yards per game (sixth).
In Bieniemy’s second season, things got worse for the offense. The Buffaloes ranked 120th in total points (17.8), 119th in total yards (302.8), and 120th in yards per play (4.4).
Bieniemy’s success in Kansas City has made him the head coach target for the Texans
Eric Bieniemy’s work with Andy Reid and the offensive success the Chiefs have had these last few years has made Bieniemy an appealing candidate to many teams who will be looking to replicate that success.
In his first two years on the job, the Chiefs had a 24-8 record. They also won the Super Bowl in his second season. At the time of this post, the Chiefs are 13-1 and clear leaders in the AFC playoff race. While Eric Bieniemy has been the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, the Chiefs have ranked in the top six in points scored and yards gained offensively.
Bieniemy’s work in 2020
This year, the Chiefs rank first in passing yards per game by an impressive 33 more yards per game than the second-place Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs are also first in total yards per game this season. On top of that, they are once again the overwhelming favorite for the Super Bowl.
The Houston offense has been primarily run through Deshaun Watson this season. The Texans are third in passing offense but dead last in rushing yards. As a former running backs coach in the NFL, Bieniemy will likely try and increase Houston’s effectiveness on the ground. To emphasize this point, the Chiefs are 14th in rushing yards per game this season.
Bieniemy understands the need to balance out an elite quarterback with an effective ground game. It’s clear Houston’s current “Air Raid” strategy with Watson isn’t winning them games. Therefore, Bieniemy likely has no hesitation in moving away from that style.
Who is really calling the shots in Kansas City?
On a previous episode of the PFN Weekly show, Allbright mentioned that Eric Bieniemy is “a titleholder who relays the play calls in but doesn’t make the play calls very often.”
“Andy Reid’s doing the play calling. Like 99 percent of the time Andy Reid is doing the play calling, he designed the offense, all of that stuff.”
Allbright has also mentioned that Bieniemy’s previous interviews have been poor. These poor interviews have likely caused him to fall out of consideration for certain positions in the past. Allbright mentioned that some teams with vacancies aren’t all that interested in Bieniemy. These historical poor interviews could be a big reason why.
The pendulum will likely swing in contrast to the O’Brien years
The Texans need to get it right when it comes to their next head coach target. The franchise has invested a significant amount of resources into Deshaun Watson. The Texans are scarred from the actions of previous head coach Bill O’Brien.
To build around Watson, it seems obvious the Texans will look to an offensive-minded coach. There isn’t a better offense to try and replicate than the Chiefs’. If Bieniemy can bring the Chiefs’ offense to Houston, they have an opportunity to be competitive for a significant stretch of time.