Tampa Bay Head Coach Search: Who is Eric Bieniemy?

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CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 4, 2018: Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy of the Kansas City Chiefs on the field prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns on November 4, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Kansas City won 37-21. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach search is on. Fans are clamoring to know who the potential candidates are and what do they bring. Enter Eric Bieniemy, the first coach to interview with Jason Licht and the Buccaneers. Eric Bieniemy, pronounced bee-EN-uh-me, is the current offensive coordinator for the playoff appearing Kansas City Chiefs. He has a long and successful history in football and just interviewed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the vacant head coaching job.

The College Player.

 A one time player himself, Bieniemy played running back at Colorado from 1987 to 1990. He was a strong player accumulating almost 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. His senior campaign was his best year as he ran for 1,628 yards, 17 touchdowns at an average of 5.7 yards a carry. This propelled him into Heisman contention. Finishing third in Heisman voting Bieniemy gain some recognition. In 1991, he would go on to be selected in the second round 39th overall by the San Diego Chargers.

The NFL Running Back.

After being drafted Bieniemy found himself on a rebounding Chargers team. In 1992 the team made the playoffs only to lose in the divisional round against the Dolphins. In 1993 the team finished fourth in their division. San Diego would charge back in 1994 making a play to win it all only to fall short and lose in the Super Bowl to the 49ers. Buried on the depth chart Bieniemy was playing behind Marion Butts.

After his run in San Diego, Bieniemy found his way to the Cincinnati Bangles where he backed up Garrison Hearst and Ki-Jana Carter. The team as an entire unit struggled and never managed a playoff birth. In his final year as a player, Bieniemy found himself playing for now Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia.

Bieniemy’s career as a plyer spanned nine seasons, three teams and he ran for 1,589 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Coaching Start.

Returning to his alma mater in 2001 Bieniemy became the running backs coach. In 2000 Colorado struggled. During his time there Colorado would win the Big 12 Championship in 2001. In 2002 they would repeat. In 2003 he moved on to bigger and better things at UCLA. Bieniemy was a part of a coaching staff there that turned the team around from 2003-2005. In 2005 the Bruins finished 10-2 launching them into the Sun Bowl. There they defeated Northwestern.

A Jump to the NFL.

In 2006 he was hired by Brad Childress and returned to the NFL as the Vikings running back coach. That year the Vikings went 6-10 with the likes of Chester Taylor at running back. For that reason, the Vikings looked to upgrade the run game so in 2007 they drafted none other than Adrian Peterson seventh overall. Minnesota would have a good run of winning seasons. Unfortunately, in 2010 with expectations high, Brad Childress stumbled and was fired after a 3-10 start. Bieniemy was promoted that season to assistant head coach of the offense and he would move on at seasons end. Peterson coached by Bieniemy went to multiple pro bowls and was selected as an All Pro multiple times in that span.

Back to Where it Began.

In a step up in position Bieniemy returned to Colorado as offensive coordinator. Unfortunately, is was not a productive stint for the Buffaloes. They mustered only four wins in the two seasons. The roster at the time had little to no talent.

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Where He Stands Now.

Finding an old mentor in Andy Reid, Bieniemy was brought on to be the Chiefs running backs coach. He served at that position from 2013-2017. Enjoying much success with the likes of Jamal Charles, Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt the Chiefs have had 6 winning seasons in a row. The 2013 to 2017 seasons the Chiefs would only land outside the top ten in rushing twice. Even those two seasons they finished in the top half of the league. Charles would earn All Pro first Team honors in 2013 and another pro bowl appearance in 2014 under Bieniemy’s watch. Hunt would get the nod to the pro bowl in 2017.

After the departure of Matt Nagy to the Bears Bieniemy was promoted again. As the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs Bieniemy has been instrumental in aiding Reid’s offense to new highs. This year the team is first in points and yards per game. Even with the turmoil surrounding the Hunt and his release, the team has been able to stay the course and continue to bury their opponents. We will now watch closely and get to see how they handle the post-season pressure.

What Could Bieniemy Bring to the Buccaneers

Coming from an Andy Reid coaching tree, Bieniemy will be a poised and prepared coach. One who’s perpetration should be top notch. Flexible in his play calling and ability to change part of his scheme in game, something the Buccaneers desperately missed this season.

In his time in Kansas City, he has seen Reid adjust play calling to his quarter back’s strengths and should apply that philosophy in Tampa. He has a great grasp for the game and Andy Reid himself said, “ he’s got a great understanding of a complete game on the offensive side,”.

Missing from the Tampa offense this past season was the run game. If anyone can fix that, it’s Bieniemy. He has played the position, coached some of the best, and helped guide them to Pro Bowls and All Pro honors. This could be his biggest impact for the Buccaneers. If he could fix the run game this offense would be scary next year.

His Staff?

A staff for Bieniemy is hard to decipher. He could pilfer some talent from Kansas City. Current running backs coach Deland McCullough studied under Bieniemy this year and played with him in Cincinnati. He could play a similar role in Tampa. The opportunity to interview the current staff in Tampa and keep some of them will be there.

One Glaring Issue.

The only issue I have with Eric Bieniemy is the fact that he did not call plays this year. Because of that, he would have needed to explain his plan for the offense and Winston while showing he has developed a play book of his own during his interview. As a study of Reid’s I am sure he did that and more.

Final Thought.   

Bieniemy could be what this team needs to turn itself around. We have seen what Andy Reid pupils have done recently and there is nothing to suggest Bieniemy can’t replicate that here in Tampa. He would have a great receiving corps and a quarter back that can do a lot of the things Patrick Mahomes can do. If he is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next head coach, I will be excited for the 2019 season.

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