Earlier tonight, we learned from Kyle Shanahan that 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will be interviewed by the Falcons tomorrow for their head coach vacancy. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that as well, but he also had a new name to add to the mix, and it’s one I imagine many fans will be interested in.
Per Rapoport, the Falcons have also lined up a video interview with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who like Saleh seems likely to be a hot candidate for the handful of open head coaching jobs around the league this year.
The team has been rumored to have interest in Bieniemy for a while now, and that interest has likely only intensified with the Falcons offense turning in a pretty stodgy season by their usual lofty standards. Bieniemy has been the Kansas City offensive coordinator for the past three seasons, and while he doesn’t call plays for the team, he’s known as a hands-on coach who Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes talk up for his leadership, attention to detail, and high standards for the offense. It goes without saying that he’s had a prominent role in one of the league’s great offenses, a team that has plenty of talent but still is a cleverly schemed, effective attack against everyone except the Atlanta Falcons. He won’t quite have the Chiefs talent in Atlanta, but his background would make him a strong fit for a team that needs to drastically improve its offense to compete in the near term.
The lack of play calling experience will likely be held up as the biggest knock against Bieniemy, but play calling may not even be something Bieniemy elects to do as a head coach. The other major knock is likely to be the recent success of Andy Reid’s disciples in the NFL, as Doug Pederson has gone from Super Bowl winning coach to on the hot seat and nobody’s quite sure what to make of Matt Nagy and his weirdly playoff-bound Bears. Neither of those concerns should obscure the fact that Bieniemy is a qualified candidate who should be able to bring a quality staff with him from Kansas City. I think he’s one of our site’s favorite potential hires, along with Buffalo’s Brian Daboll and Tennessee’s Arthur Smith.
Again, it’s hard to know what to make of the interview occurring before the Falcons have a general manager in the building, but perhaps they’re planning to hire a coach first or perhaps is not one of their top candidates. There are so many unknowns right now that it’s probably better to just note the candidates and see how things shake out.
What are your thoughts on Bieniemy as a candidate?