CNN’s Jake Tapper thinks that he’s uncovered the reason why Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy isn’t currently a head coach.
Tapper believes that because Bieniemy is black, NFL franchises don’t want him in charge of their teams. He said as much in an interview on Tuesday with lefty sports yacker and TBS baseball commentator Bob Costas.
Tapper based his argument on the fact that the Arizona Cardinals filled their head coaching vacancy by hiring Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon instead of Bieniemy.
“Football fans … might have been surprised it was the Eagles defensive coach Jonathan Gannon who was just asked to be the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, passing over, once again, the superbly talented Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, who helped his team get to three Super Bowls and win two Vince Lombardi trophies just since 2018,” Tapper said in his monologue.
In Tapper’s mind, the fact the Eagles let up 31 of the 38 points the Chiefs scored in their Super Bowl LVII win is enough evidence for him to be disqualified from being considered for a head coaching gig. On the flip side, he views Bieniemy’s part in the Chiefs' victory -- and his role in helping his team get to three Super Bowl appearances in the past four years -- as evidence enough that he should be a head coach once the 2023 season kicks off (he hasn't gotten any head coach offers, but he is currently in the interview process to be the Washington Commanders offensive coordinator).
Tapper then point blank asked Costas if he believes the ethnicity of the coaches played a role in determining who got a head coaching job and who didn’t.
“So, let’s just ask the question on the table. Would Eric Bieniemy be a head coach today if he were white?” he asked.
“I think you would have to conclude that as likely,” Costas said, of course.
Both of these men could not be further from the truth.
First, as an Eagles fan, Tapper should realize Gannon’s body of work as defensive coordinator in Philadelphia was excellent, especially this past season. In 2022, the Eagles were top 10 in the league in points allowed, yards allowed, and turnovers forced, helping propel them to a 14-3 regular season record and the number-1 seed in the NFC playoffs. This unit was fearsome, and Gannon proved he could run an elite defense -- an area the Cardinals desperately need to improve.
The fact that the Eagles had a subpar performance in the Super Bowl doesn’t take away from what they accomplished in the regular season, or in their two playoff games in which they let up a combined 14 points (I know the competition they played in those rounds wasn’t great, but still).
Plus, in the final game, they ran into an offense where Andy Reid calls the plays and is quarterbacked by some guy named Patrick Mahomes, who happens to be pretty good at what he does.
Speaking of Reid, his involvement in the Chief’s offense also helps explain why Bieniemy has stayed an offensive coordinator. It is well-known that Reid -- one of the most brilliant offensive minds ever -- does a majority of the play calling for the Chiefs, or any team he coaches. So Bieniemy's prowess doesn't loom as large as it would under a different head coach.
But perhaps the most obvious reason for why Bieniemy isn’t a head coach is because he doesn’t relate to players well.
LeSean McCoy, who played as a running back for the Chiefs under Bieniemy in 2019, said that the offensive coordinator talks to players “a certain way” (which McCoy insinuated was largely negative) and that his skin color has nothing to do with why he’s not a head coach.
Shady McCoy sounds OFF about #Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy: “there’s a reason why every year they hype him up to get a job and then when the time comes nobody hires him because they know the type of coach he really is.”— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) May 26, 2022
🎥 - @IAMATHLETEpod pic.twitter.com/aNjN85kHhE
“There’s a reason why every year they hype him up to get a job and then when the time comes, nobody hires him because they know the type of coach he really is,” McCoy said in an interview in 2022.
If you can’t get buy-in from the majority of the players you coach, and if multiple people consistently don’t have a lot of nice things to say about you, that could also explain why you haven’t gone to the next level yet.
The bottom line is Bieniemy doesn’t get consideration for a head-coaching gig because he isn’t the main contributor to the unit he oversees, and because player’s don’t like him. Tapper and Costas would be wise to consider that before they peddle a tired and overused narrative about this guy.