Six of the NFL's seven head coaching vacancies have been filled, and for the second consecutive offseason, it appears that Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy may end up without a chance to lead a team.
Alex Smith has been employed by The Washington Football Team for the past three seasons, when Bieniemy has been the offensive coordinator in Kansas City. However, from 2013 through 2017 - Smith's five seasons in Kansas City - Bieniemy worked as the running backs coach under Andy Reid, Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy. Smith had a high enough opinion of Bieniemy's work in that capacity, that he, like many others, finds it hard to believe that the 51-year-old has had trouble landing a head coaching gig.
"Yeah, I think it's ridiculous that he hasn't been hired yet," Smith said to Terez Paylor of Yahoo! Sports. "I know that the interview process is weird with a team that's still in it [the playoffs]. But regardless, I don't see how you can excuse it. I think Eric's No. 1 quality - and it was apparent from the first day I met him - was his leadership. [He has] leadership ability...[is a] true leader of men. Here's a guy that had played for a long time...was a great teacher...commanded respect because he gave respect.
"Also, in the NFL sometimes you've got these 'good luck!' coaches I feel like. You're about to take the field and they tell you 'good luck!' and you're like 'well, aren't you going out there with us? Aren't you in it with us?' And for me, EB is the epitome of the opposite of that. If he could have strapped it up and gone out there with you, he would have. I think that was something for me that I loved so much [while] playing for him. I felt that like we were all going out there together...we were in it together...he brought that energy every single day...the passion."
Smith would go on to say that Bieniemy has experience in coaching all aspects of the offense, and opined that by working under Reid, Pederson and Nagy he "doesn't see how you could be more ready."
And yet, none of the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers or Philadelphia Eagles hired Bieniemy. The only team left is the Houston Texans, who after initially not interviewing Bieniemy, more or less had to be publicly shamed into interviewing him earlier this week. Because of Deshaun Watson's seeming advocacy for Bieniemy, it wouldn't be shocking if he's eventually offered the job in an attempt to save the relationship with the star quarterback, though given how much of a mess the Texans are, you could hardly blame Bieniemy if he has reservations about the position.