Eric Bieniemy is the social cause of the NFL. He keeps getting passed over for head coaching jobs. The insistence is always that it’s because he’s black. Deshaun Watson might want out of Houston because Bieniemy didn’t get an interview there. The news of the day claims that the Philadelphia Eagles never even bothered to officially request an interview with Bieniemy.
But why is he considered such an obvious choice? Bieniemy might turn out to be an awesome head coach someday. But at this point, he’s an offensive coordinator who doesn’t call plays and didn’t create the Kansas City Chiefs offense or its quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.
He is not the no-brainer choice that the overly-outraged media makes him out to be. His credentials are entirely about one thing:
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. The feeling and assumption is that Reid must have rubbed off on Bieniemy in some way. Reid has become Coaching God.
Bieniemy must therefore be blessed by the Touch of Reid.
Reid has his defending champs back in the Super Bowl Sunday against Tampa Bay, and in one year, with one win, Reid’s image and reputation have been completely revamped from the solid coach who couldn’t win the big one to the offensive genius and creator who everyone wants to copy.
“He’s one of the greatest coaches of all time,’’ Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said last year after beating San Francisco 31-20 in the Super Bowl and finally giving Reid a championship after more than 20 years. “I don’t think he needed the Lombardi Trophy to prove that, but to do that, it just puts all doubt aside. He’s going to be listed as one of the all-time great coaches whenever he wants to be done, which I hope is not anytime soon.’’
Reid is a case study about head coaches, but I’m not 100 percent sure yet what the lesson is. I think it’s about the randomness of a coach’s performance. A great coach is a great coach and a crummy one is a crummy one, but is it really always so obvious which one is which? The magic takes a combination of things, such as the right quarterback and maybe just the right time and place.
Reid spent 14 years as Philadelphia’s coach, much of it with Donovan McNabb at quarterback and an excellent defense. He lost four straight NFC title games and one Super Bowl.
Do you remember that Super Bowl? The Eagles lost to New England because their two-minute offense seemed to be buried knee-deep in mud.
That does not connect in any way with the modern view of a Reid offense. His image now is so crisp and stellar that I barely remember writing years ago that he had no clue how to use running backs.
Reid was always an offensive genius, studying different offenses every chance he had, trying to modernize Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense, morphing it into something defined by run-pass options and getting fast players the ball in open space.
Even before Reid was a Super Bowl champ, his assistants were landing head coaching jobs all over the place. Of course, one of them, Doug Pederson, took over for him in Philadelphia and won the Super Bowl. As soon as Reid left. . .
Reid came to Kansas City to take over a 2-14 team and try again. By all reports, Reid felt his career would never be complete if he didn’t win one.
And now, he might be about to start an assault on Bill Belichick’s legacy, too, though he’s a long way from matching his numbers. There is no reason the Reid-Mahomes combo can’t last for 10 more years. Maybe more.
But did Reid, now 62, really just become a top coach? Or was it just incredible timing when Mahomes arrived? That’s not to give Mahomes all the credit, but the combination may deserve much of it.
Belichick was a loser with the Cleveland Browns, and then he came to New England and found his random timing with young Tom Brady and the right ownership that wanted to win.
And while Belichick is now known as possibly the greatest coach of all time, what would have happened if he had stayed in Cleveland? Maybe the timing would have been right with that franchise at some point too? Maybe he would just be some guy in the coaching garbage heap.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady is one win Sunday away from changing 68-year-old Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians’ legacy and image.
In Chicago, the Bears looked to move forward into the modern era by hiring Matt Nagy as the head coach. He had been blessed by the Touch of Reid too. And now, he is mocked in Chicago, where the term offensive genius is used to ridicule his inept offense. His quarterback is Mitch Trubisky. The owners and general manager don’t know what they’re doing.
Most of Chicago wants Nagy out, but the Bears are sticking with him. Maybe the Touch of Reid isn’t enough to make a coach great. Maybe it just isn’t Nagy’s time or place.
Maybe Bieniemy will go on to be the next great coach or maybe he’ll flop. There are no sure things.