LAS VEGAS — Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid surprised reporters on Wednesday.
It wasn’t a new recipe. It wasn’t his favorite cheeseburger. It was something more heartwarming with no indigestion involved. Reid revealed that former offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who was recently let go by the Washington Commanders, spoke to the Chiefs prior to their AFC championship win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Reid noted that there isn’t space on his coaching staff for Bieniemy to come back, but his influence clearly has some level of value where he can be an asset for a team. If the NFL isn’t the move for him — and recent hiring cycles when his stock was higher indicated becoming a head coach is unlikely — there could be a spot for him at another place.
And his alma mater may have a need for him next to Deion Sanders.
Yes, that sounds wild at this point, but think about it for a second. Colorado’s 2023 season fell apart largely because it wasn't up to par with the competition the Buffaloes faced, but they had problems with their play-calling (or at least a perceived problem). Sean Lewis, who is now the head coach at San Diego State, had play-calling duties stripped from him in favor of former NFL head coach Pat Shurmur, who struggled getting the Buffaloes’ offense in order.
Sanders staunchly reiterated that Shurmur would be his 2024 offensive coordinator on Robert Griffin III's podcast in January. But who knows? A lot can change over the course of an offseason.
Bieniemy served as Colorado's offensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012 before he made the jump to Reid's Chiefs staff. He could be a fit in Boulder as someone who ran an extremely pass-heavy offense in Washington after helping Patrick Mahomes develop into the world-beater he is now.
Now, there are some things Bieniemy would have to change about his approach after a rough year with the Commanders. This was partially because Washington had a Swiss cheese defense, but the Commanders threw the ball way too much. Perhaps they were in information-gathering mode about Sam Howell to gauge his ability to be the Commanders’ future franchise quarterback. There is simply no reason for a team with a first-year starter to lead the league in passing attempts. That would probably play better in college, where Colorado's Shedeur Sanders is a tough bout for most defenses — especially against the Big 12 defenses he'll face this year.
It’s unlikely Bieniemy at this point would take this step, but it might be something to consider as he tries to rehab his image as a play-caller. It didn’t work out in Washington, but it could happen somewhere else if he gets the chance to try out some new ideas. As much as the Chiefs have raved about Bieniemy over the past few years, he can’t be a totally useless entity as a coach. This is a marriage that makes sense, unless (again) Shurmur really is already the pick as full-time offensive coordinator.
Bieniemy back to Colorado makes sense if Coach Prime and the university are willing to have him around. There have been plenty of college coaches who are getting a chance to sniff the pro game recently in a variety of roles, so this isn’t the death sentence to a coaching career that it used to be. There’s a chance that it could be a big upgrade for Colorado, and Bieniemy's famously hard-nosed style of coaching seems to be what Sanders wants for his team. A quick bid in Boulder might be what the doctor ordered for both parties to get Bieniemy's career moving back in the right direction.