Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has been pegged as a top head coaching candidate for two straight offseasons now. He has been one of the faces behind KC's Super Bowl-winning offense and can be credited (at least in part) for helping bring Patrick Mahomes along that one year he sat on the bench behind Alex Smith.
Bieniemy missed out on the open HC jobs last season and he has had more than a few friends around the league grouse about that in public forums, including Mahomes. This year, given there are currently seven head coaching gigs available around the league, it felt inevitable Bieniemy would be hired away from Andy Reid's staff. The early rounds of interviews backed that belief up; Bieniemy has already met with five teams and the Texans (finally) have requested to meet with him, although they missed their window and will now have to wait until the Chiefs are done with playoff football to do so.
Alongside Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, no one man has been as sought-after this offseason to be tapped as a new head coach. And yet Dan Graziano went on ESPN this morning to say there is a chance Bieniemy will miss out on a head coaching gig for the second straight offseason.
Those of us not working for NFL teams can only know so much about the strength of a coordinator's candidacy for a head coaching gig. We're all extremely reliant on guys like Graziano to fill us in. But Bieniemy's name has become such a constant in potential head coach discussions over the last two seasons that it would be a big surprise if he whiffed again.
Think about it this way-- how many coordinators do you know that aren't currently or were formerly employed by your favorite team? The number for your average fan is not very high there. But Bieniemy is as close to a household name as you'll get for these kinds of discussions, and yet it isn't sure thing he'll get hired.
Nobody can say for sure why that might be the case, either. Bieniemy had some issues at Colorado that are well-documented at this point; he was banned from campus as a student for harassing and assaulting a parking lot attendant, received a DUI just after the turn of the century, and was on the coaching staff when multiple players were accused of rape. Bieniemy has not gotten into any trouble, legal or otherwise, over the last decade or so, and none of the aforementioned red flags stopped him from getting interviewed for a promotion over the last two years.
There is a lot that goes on behind the closed doors of football facilities in these instances that even premier NFL insiders can't speak about. But this situation simply does not happen very often. If a coordinator interviews for double-digit coaching jobs over a two-year span, it is a matter of when he will get hired, not if. Names get circulated and requests for interviews are put in for a reason.
I am certainly not qualified to say whether or not Bieniemy is deserving of a head coaching gig. But NFL teams follow patterns, and the pattern Bieniemy has been involved in suggests he should be getting such a gig in short order. Which is why it would be all the more surprising if what Graziano suggests comes to fruition.
UPDATE: Matt Miller tweeted out some info he got from a source about specifically why Bieniemy could miss out.