Brian Daboll was a finalist over Eric Bieniemy for the Cleveland Browns and there’s just no way to know what’s up with this year’s head coaching market.
It’s possible this is all premature. The Cleveland Browns, the one NFL team with a head coach opening, still hasn’t made any official overtures, as of yet, to fill the role. But the odds do not look good for one Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator.
Eric Bieniemy is one of eight persons who have been interviewed for the job, so by definition, seven people were going to be upset with the final results here (six, actually, given that Mike McCarthy was one of the interviewees who already landed a different job with the Dallas Cowboys). But Ben Volin of the Boston Globe has a bit of leaked news from multiple sources that indicate that Bieniemy will not get the job.
Two sources say the Browns plan to wrap up their process today and hope to have a hire by tonight or tomorrow. It appears to be down to McDaniels, Kevin Stefanski and Brian Daboll, three great offensive coordinators
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 10, 2020
This means that for the second consecutive offseason, Eric Bieniemy will have been passed over for every head coaching opportunity. Last offseason, Bieniemy earned interest from four teams and had at least one interview that we know of with the New York Jets. Adam Gase got the job instead.
This year, the results were even more frustrating. Bieniemy was the rumored favorite to land the role of head coach with the Washington Redskins and ended up getting interviews with every single team with an opening except for the Dallas Cowboys. However, Washington went with Ron Rivera. The Carolina Panthers hired Matt Rhule. The New York Giants wanted Joe Judge. And now the Cleveland Browns want… well, not Bieniemy.
A quick note: Bieniemy will say all the right things when asked. He’ll say something about being blessed to coach the Chiefs and to learn more from Andy Reid and to work with this incredible roster. All of those things might be correct. However, Bieniemy has earned this shot. Reid even decided to become more vocal in his support in order to help Bieniemy’s cause. There’s no reason to not hire Bieniemy at this point—at least based on things known publicly.
Bieniemy says he’s ready. Reid says he’s ready. Every player swears by his leadership, and the Chiefs have become a model franchise. Bieniemy has spent seven years learning from one of the most creative minds in the league and comes with ideas of his own. He’s articulate, intelligent, hard-working, and inspiring.
Somehow all of that is not enough for every losing team in the NFL.
Some teams passing him over are understanding. Some teams want a defensive-minded head coach. Other teams are hungry to bring in proven leadership, and in an offseason where both Rivera and McCarthy were available, those hires absolutely make sense. Yet other teams want a part of the Patriots glory while it’s still present with us, so maybe Joe Judge is a decent hire. He does, after all, come with rings.
Then we come back to the Cleveland Browns. It’s clear they want an offensive mind. It’s clear they’re going with an unproven head coach. It’s also clear they’re choosing lesser candidates than what they could have.
Josh McDaniels has his fans (and those rings), and Kevin Stefanski has earned future head coaching buzz in each of the last couple offseasons, a la Bieniemy. Those finalists are fine. But here’s where the ridiculousness of this whole head coaching market is most apparent: Brian Daboll is a finalist for a head coaching job in 2019 over Eric Bieniemy.
Daboll has been an offensive coordinator in the NFL for six seasons, including last season for the Buffalo Bills. He’s never once finished above 22nd in total yards or 20th in points scored, and this past year, the Bills improved from 30th in each category (in Daboll’s first season with the team) to 24th and 23rd, respectively. Chiefs fans will remember Daboll from his short-lived stint as offensive coordinator in 2012 when the Chiefs ranked 32nd out of 32 teams in total points scored.
Daboll has also never once been a head coach anywhere at any level. It’s not as if Daboll has something other than his horrible offensive resume to fall back on. Somehow Daboll has been able to coast on his New England ties without any actual credit of his own. It’s simple association and it’s never worked, but somehow the Browns are enthused enough to overlook Bieniemy for the sake of this trio of finalists.
Bieniemy may one day get his shot, but he deserved a chance in the present. It’s ridiculous that Daboll is the one getting recognized on a Bills’ team carried by its defense. The Chiefs might benefit from having EB around for another year, but Bieniemy was ready to move on. As Chiefs fans we should want what’s best for him if only other teams would recognize what’s best—or at least better—when it’s right in front of them.