Eric Bieniemy

West Rumors: Raiders, Chargers, Broncos

The 49ers aren’t the only club with interest in former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, as the Raiders also want to speak to the ex-Indy exec about a front office role, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Oakland is rebuilding its front office after firing general manager Reggie McKenzie and top lieutenant Joey Clinkscales. Grigson would join a front office that now includes first-time GM — and former NFL Network analyst — Mike Mayock, who was hired earlier this week. The 46-year-old Grigson was fired by the Colts in 2016 after a tumultuous five-year term as GM, and has since worked with the Browns and Seahawks’ front offices.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Two of Sean McVay‘s top assistants will take their interviews with the Bengals on Friday. Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor and pass game coordinator/tight ends coach Shane Waldron will meet with Cincinnati ownership tomorrow, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Nearly every candidate in which the Bengals have expressed interest thus far have come from the offensive side of the ball, with the only exception being former Broncos head coach (and ex-Cincy defensive backs coach) Vance Joseph. The Bengals were turned down by Josh McDaniels, but they’ve also asked to meet with Bucs OC Todd Monken and Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, among others. Bieniemy’s interview with the Bengals — originally scheduled for Friday — will now take place on Saturday, tweets Pelissero.
  • After being designated for return from injured reserve and participating in seven-on-seven drills at the end of December, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry took first-team snaps in practice this week, Los Angeles announced. However, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn still declined to commit to Henry playing against the Ravens in the first round of the NFL postseason, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com tweets. If Henry does play, he’ll be on a “pitch count,” meaning fellow tight ends Antonio Gates and Virgil Green will still see time. Henry tore his ACL in May, but Los Angeles held out hope he’d be available if the club made it to the playoffs.
  • Rams center John Sullivan collected a $1MM bonus by being active for at least 15 games and Los Angeles ranking as a top-five scoring offense and making the playoffs, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Sullivan, 33, actually started all 16 games for the Rams in 2018, and has started 31 contests since joining the club last offseason. LA’s line was elite in 2018, finishing No. 1 in adjusted line yards and No. 6 in adjusted sack rate, but Sullivan graded as just the NFL’s No. 32 center, per Pro Football Focus. The Rams hold a 2019 option on Sullivan which would pay him $1.75MM in base salary in addition to a $2.5MM roster bonus.
  • Currently being run by a trust headed by team president Joe Ellis, the Broncos are in need of a permanent owner. That’s likely to eventually be Pat Bowlen‘s youngest daughter, Brittany Bowlen, tweets James Palmer of ESPN.com, who notes Brittany will join the organization “at some point.” Bowlen, 28, could potentially take over in 2021 after a new collective bargaining agreement is put into place, speculates Mike Klis of 9News.
  • 49ers left guard Laken Tomlinson suffered a torn MCL on Sunday, according to a team announcement. That’s relatively good news since the longtime starter was carted off of the field, leading to fears that he had suffered a torn ACL. Tomlinson will not need surgery, so he should be good to go for offseason activities. Tomlinson is under contract with San Francisco through 2021 thanks to the three-year, $18MM extension he signed last summer.

Buccaneers To Meet With Kris Richard

At least one team has scheduled a meeting with Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard. The Buccaneers have planned an interview with Richard, according to the NFL network (via the Tampa Bay Times).

Teams are not allowed to meet with assistants whose teams are preparing for first-round games, but the Bucs have scheduled a summit with Richard for after the Cowboys’ wild-card game.

Both the Dolphins and Jets submitted interview requests to Richard, but it’s not known if any meetings are scheduled yet. The Bucs interviewed Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy in Kansas City on Wednesday.

Richard, 39, was viewed as a possible HC candidate last year. He oversaw the 2015 Seahawks’ No. 1 scoring defense and was the Legion of Boom’s position coach the previous three seasons, which also featured Seattle housing No. 1 scoring defenses. The Seahawks fired Richard after the 2017 campaign, leading him to Dallas.

Richard took over play-calling duties from Dallas DC Rod Marinelli this season. The Cowboys’ defense improved slightly, ranking sixth in points allowed. Tampa Bay’s defense struggled again, allowing the second-most points in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Bieniemy Declines Cardinals Interview

Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy declined an opportunity to interview with the Cardinals, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). He’s set to interview with the Jets and Buccaneers on Wednesday, the Dolphins on Thursday, and the Bengals on Friday, so he has a full plate as he also gets set for the Chiefs’ Divisional Round game on Jan. 12.

Bieniemy has been a popular candidate early in this cycle and it seems awful likely that he’ll land a job behind the strength of the Chiefs’ offense and Andy Reid‘s strong recommendation.

In 2017, the Chiefs ranked fifth in total offense under Matt Nagy’s command. Bieniemy had big shoes to fill as he took over for him but Patrick Mahomes & Co. exceeded all expectations. The Chiefs finished first in total offense in 2018 by averaging an eye-popping 425.6 yards per game.

Bieniemy, who enjoyed a nine-year playing career before entering the coaching ranks, has been with Kansas City since 2013. Prior to that, the 45-year-old served as the offensive coordinator at Colorado, so he has call-playing experience despite the fact that Reid is hands-on with his team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs, Dolphins Request Interviews With Eric Bieniemy

The Buccaneers and Dolphins have requested interviews with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, according to Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Bieniemy, 49, was among those recommended by the Fritz Pollard Alliance for head coaching consideration this year and should be a hot candidate given the success of the Chiefs’ explosive offense in 2018.

The Jets also requested an interview with Bieniemy on Monday, a job that could hold more appeal than the Bucs or Dolphins. Aside from the Jets playing in the country’s biggest market, they have a young and promising quarterback in Sam Darnold. The draft could bring new QBs to Tampa Bay and Miami, but Darnold could be closer to NFL success than any prospect in the 2019 class.

Bieniemy’s first NFL coaching gig came between 2016-2010 with the Vikings as a running backs coach. He dipped back into the college ranks as Colorado’s offensive coordinator, but returned to the pro level in 2013 as the Chiefs’ running backs coach. When Matt Nagy left for Chicago, Andy Reid promoted him to the OC post.

Coaching Rumors: Gase, Broncos, Dolphins, Arians, Buccaneers, Jets, Cardinals

Adam Gase might’ve been the most surprising firing of Black Monday, and he likely won’t be out of a job too long. Gase has “heard from the majority of teams with an HC opening” within hours of being let go by the Dolphins, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link), who notes that Gase will begin taking head coaching interviews this week. While Gase has been linked to numerous jobs, including the Browns’ opening, don’t expect a reunion in Denver. Although he was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator during their peak with Peyton Manning, GM John Elway said at his press conference today Gase isn’t a candidate “at this time”, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Gase got the Dolphins job because of his work with the Broncos, but there have long been rumors of bad blood between him and Elway. Elway reportedly told interested teams he didn’t think Gase was ready to be a head coach years ago, and Gase ran up the score on the Bronocs as revenge last year, kicking an onside kick while up 24 points late in the game. While it won’t be in Denver, at this point it would be a surprise if Gase isn’t a head coach somewhere next season.

Here’s more on the coaching carousel:

  • Speaking of Gase, the Dolphins will be undergoing a complete rebuild as they look for his replacement. They shook up their front office earlier today and are likely to move on from Ryan Tannehill this offseason. As for their next coach, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald “would be shocked” if Dan Campbell doesn’t get an interview (Twitter link). Campbell, the Saints’ assistant head coach, has already been requested by the Browns and is expected to be a hot candidate. He was the Dolphins’ interim coach in 2015 after they fired Joe Philbin four games into the season. Miami has also put in a request to interview Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, according to Schefter (Twitter link), adding to a long list of teams looking to talk to Flores.
  • While former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has repeatedly said the only job he would come out of retirement for would be the Browns’, he might be having a change of heart. The legendary offensive coach told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link), that he knows Buccaneers GM Jason Licht, and “would listen” if the Bucs came calling. Tampa is almost certainly looking for an offensive coach to revitalize Jameis Winston‘s career, and Arians would be a very intriguing option.
  • The Jets have made their first two interview requests as they look to replace Todd Bowles. The team is looking to talk to Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link), and also wants an interview with Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). Rapsheet also tweets the team requested an interview with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, but Campbell denied the request. Finally, Rapoport notes in a fourth tweet that the Jets are one of two new teams interested in former Lions coach Jim Caldwell, along with the Browns. All of these requests are in line with the thinking that the Jets are interested in bringing in an offensive coach to work with Sam Darnold.
  • The Jets aren’t the only team interested in Bieniemy, as Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports tweets that the Buccaneers and Dolphins have reached out as well. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network added in a tweet that the Cardinals have also requested an interview, bringing the number of teams interested in Bieniemy to four. Given the success that members of the Andy Reid coaching tree has had in recent years, it’s not surprising he’s a sought after name.
  • Speaking of the Cardinals, the team has requested Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Rapoport tweets. The Cardinals are in desperate need of an offensive coach who can help Josh Rosen after Rosen’s woeful rookie campaign, and Taylor is very highly thought of in some circles. Rapoport notes the team has “been doing work on him”, so this seems like more than just a courtesy interview.

Fritz Pollard Alliance Recommends HC Candidates

Every year, the Fritz Pollard Alliance releases a list of recommended minority head coaching candidates. This year’s edition is nearly double in size and features the likes of Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Cowboys defensive backs coach/defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard, as Mike Jones of USA Today writes. 

Here’s the complete list of suggested candidates:

  • Keith Armstrong (Falcons special teams coordinator)
  • Teryl Austin (Former Bengals defensive coordinator)
  • Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator)
  • Jim Caldwell (former Lions and Colts head coach)
  • George Edwards (Vikings defensive coordinator)
  • Brian Flores (Patriots linebackers coach)
  • Leslie Frazier (Bills defensive coordinator)
  • Raheem Morris (Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers coach)
  • Hue Jackson (special assistant to the head coach of the Bengals; former Browns head coach)
  • Kris Richard (Cowboys defensive backs coach/defensive passing game coordinator)
  • Duce Staley (Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach)

Flores, the de facto defensive coordinator of the Patriots, figures to be a hot coaching candidate this year. The same goes for Bieniemy, who is helping to guide one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.

Others on this list, such as Jackson and Austin, seem unlikely to garner real consideration for head coaching positions this offseason. The Browns turned the corner after dumping Jackson and appointing Gregg Williams as the team’s interim head coach, which isn’t a great endorsement for the offensive guru. Meanwhile, the Bengals hired Austin in January but fired him earlier this month as his defense was one of the lowest ranked in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Promote Eric Bieniemy To OC

The Chiefs have promoted running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to offensive coordinator, the club announced today. Bieniemy will replace Matt Nagy, who has moved on to become the new head coach of the Bears. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) was the first to indicate a Bieniemy promotion was likely.Eric Bieniemy/Andy Reid (vertical)

Last year, the Chiefs ranked fifth in total offense under Nagy’s command. Bieniemy will be tasked with keeping the offense flowing, though it remains to be seen who his quarterback will be. The Chiefs could explore trades for Alex Smith, opening the door for young Patrick Mahomes III to take over.

Bieniemy, who enjoyed a nine-year playing career before entering the coaching ranks, has been with Kansas City since 2013. Prior to that, the 45-year-old served as the offensive coordinator at Colorado, so he does offer play-calling experience. Whether or not Bieniemy will actually call plays with the Chiefs — something head coach Andy Reid is known to do — is unknown.

As PFR’s 2018 Coordinator Tracker indicates, the Chiefs never considered any other candidates for their vacant OC job, as Bieniemy was said to have the “inside track” from the outset of the search.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Chiefs, Packers, Bengals

The Chiefs could promote running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (on Twitter). Rapoport adds that he has “the inside track.” The vacancy opened up this weekend when Matt Nagy agreed to become the next head coach of the Bears.

Here’s the latest coaching news from around the NFL:

  • Packers secondary coach Darren Perry interviewed for the team’s defensive coordinator position on Monday, according to Alex Marvez of The Sporting News (on Twitter). The interview was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was delayed due to the team’s front office reorganization.
  • Contrary to a previous report, former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was not interviewed by the Browns on Monday, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. When he does interview with the team, it will be for an offensive assistant job and not necessarily for the OC position.
  • The Raiders will officially ink contracts with offensive coordinator Greg Olson and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther before the big Jon Gruden press conference, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • The Bengals announced the signing of Bob Bicknell as the team’s new wide receivers coach. Bicknell, who has 25 years of professional and collegiate coaching experience, was Baylor University’s WRs coach in 2017. Meanwhile, defensive line coach Jacob Burney has been retained with a new two-year contract extension (Twitter link via Alex Marvez of The Sporting News).

Coaching Notes: Wilks, Bears, Chiefs, Cards

Steve Wilks has set up three interviews for this week. The Giants will receive the first opportunity to meet with the Panthers’ DC, with ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson reporting (on Twitter) Wilks will trek to New Jersey to meet with the Dave Gettleman-led group on Tuesday before flying to Arizona to meet with the Cardinals on Wednesday. Following those meetings, the Colts will host Wilks on Thursday, Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets. These aren’t the only teams interested in securing a sitdown with Wilks. The Lions remain interested in doing so as well, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

The Giants will complete both Wilks’ and Eric Studesville‘s interviews by Wednesday, with the former Broncos running backs coach set for a Wednesday powwow, per ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (Twitter link). This duo will mark the fifth and sixth interviews the Giants will have conducted. After these summits, Big Blue management could be ready to make a decision. With the Eagles still in the playoffs and no Jim Schwartz interview conducted, it could put the Giants to a decision: wait on Schwartz and risk losing some of these aforementioned candidates or hire one of them instead.

Here’s the latest from the coaching circuit.

  • A possible favorite has already emerged to replace Matt Nagy as the Chiefs‘ OC. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy will be “strongly considered,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The 48-year-old Bienemy served as Colorado’s OC from 2011-12 and has coached the Chiefs’ running backs since Andy Reid‘s arrival in 2013. Bienemy could have a clearer path to this job with former K.C. OC Brad Childress planning to retire.
  • Nagy wants to retain Vic Fangio with the Bears, both Peter Schrager of NFL.com and the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs note (Twitter links). But Fangio has interest elsewhere — from the Bengals and Packers — and could opt to depart Chicago after being passed over for the HC job.
  • Chicago may also look to retain a few assistants who worked under John Fox. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone is a candidate to stay under Nagy despite the new HC making his NFL name by working with QBs. The Bears respected Ragone’s work with Trubisky, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets, and adds Nagy and Ragone share an agent. Biggs tweets tight ends coach Frank Smith and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers are candidates to stay put as well.
  • The Browns‘ interviews with OC candidates Ken Zampese and Sean Ryan will take place this week. Rapoport reports (via Twitter) Zampese will receive the first meeting, which will occur today, with Ryan’s interview scheduled for Wednesday. A second-generation NFL assistant, Zampese spent the past 15 seasons with the Bengals before his second year as OC ended after just two games. A nine-year Giants staffer who is currently the Texans’ QBs coach, Ryan does not have any history with Hue Jackson like Zampese does.
  • Ron Rivera does not anticipate the Panthers making any staff changes beyond possibly replacing Wilks, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. This would mean OC Mike Shula is in line to return for a sixth season.
  • Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong‘s Cardinals interview is set for Monday in Atlanta, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. Armstrong is allowed to interview under NFL rules despite the Falcons winning in the wild-card round.