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Opinion: Kansas City Chiefs need to make Eric Bieniemy head-coach-in-waiting

The Chiefs’ offensive coordinator needs the recognition he deserves, even if no NFL is willing to give it to him

Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for the chance to become just the ninth NFL franchise to win back-to-back Super Bowls, one thing remains true win-or-lose: Eric Bieniemy deserves a head coaching position.

It’s a story line that has lingered since Andy Reid’s team waltzed into their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years has only grown with Bieniemy being passed up for several NFL vacancies over the past 12 months.

The former University of Colorado standout turned coach is a phenomenal play caller who is becoming more comfortable in his role with the Chiefs and their high-powered offense behind former league MVP Patrick Mahomes.

Since Bieniemy’s first season with Kansas City in 2018, the Chiefs are an impressive 44-9 including the postseason. This is his second trip to the Super Bowl and would have been his third if not for Tom Brady’s overtime comeback in the 2018 AFC Championship.

Bieniemy has not only gotten better over the course of time, but with the Chiefs, it’s pretty clear to track his progress and see he’s a vital piece of what may be the best offense in NFL history.

But, why hasn’t Bieniemy taken the head coaching duties for an NFL team yet? It surely doesn’t come down to performance on his part. Is there an NFL team willing to trust Bieniemy to lead them? One factor in particular that makes Bieniemy’s struggle hard to believe is knowing that two of the three previous offensive coordinators for Reid — Matt Nagy and Doug Peterson — have gone on to head coaching positions with much less impressive accomplishments.

Despite the lack of attention for Bieniemy, his focus is with the team who got him here.

“My job is to make sure that I’m doing everything under the sun to get our guys ready and prepare to play on the world’s biggest stage come game day, to have that opportunity of becoming back-to-back champs,” Bieniemy said. “The beauty of it is, is if teams are not going to hire me, and we’re chasing our dreams every year of chasing the championship, you know what? I’m going to choose to chase my dream.”

With Reid getting ready to finish his 29th NFL season, it may be time for the Chiefs to consider their plans after the two-time Super Bowl winning coach decides to call it a career.

One option to keep the success with the team, and trust with Mahomes intact, is to keep Bieniemy by establishing a coach-in-waiting contract. It certainly is unprecedented at the professional level to keep an assistant waiting in the wings, but in the case of Bieniemy being overlooked time and time again the Chiefs have the opportunity to be a trendsetter.

It would create an easy transition for Kansas City when Reid is ready to step aside and allow Bieniemy to be valued for his efforts. Although, there would have to be specific verbiage written into the contract that would allow other teams to pursue Bieniemy with a buyout clause, if they intend on hiring him as a head coach.

Reid, 62, hasn’t considered retirement and reportedly said he’s planning on coaching Mahones over the next decade. But if Kansas City’s front office sees an opening come available with a chance to promote Bieniemy, it would be a solid move all the way around.

“At this particular time, it’s not about me,” Bieniemy noted. “It’s about making sure that we can go out and be a part of history and wear that ring. Be another team that has had that opportunity to repeat.”

One day, Bieniemy will be a head coach in the NFL. But for right now, it’s one play at a time and one more step toward that eventual goal to prove the naysayers wrong. And when it happens, the entire league will take notice on how they let him slip away from building their franchise.