UCLA hires Eric Bieniemy: Ex-Chiefs, Commanders offensive coordinator joins Bruins as associate head coach/OC



One of the most notable names in the NFL coaching carousel across the last few seasons, former Washington Commanders assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has a new home. Bieniemy will move back to the college ranks joining new UCLA coach DeShaun Foster’s staff as associate head coach/offensive coordinator.

“This is a great opportunity for me to help support DeShaun as a new head coach, to work with him and for him as well,” Bieniemy told CBS Sports Senior NFL Insider Josina Anderson and NFL writer Garrett Podell via text message. “I chose to fly under the radar during this hiring process, and my experience generated a lot of interest from a number of NFL teams prior to coming to this decision.”

Bieniemy, who previously rose to prominence as offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, said two NFL teams showed interest in him as an offensive coordinator early in the offseason hiring process. He also interviewed with the Commanders for their head-coaching vacancy and received a variety of other NFL offers ranging from associate head coach and running backs coach to senior offensive assistant.

Bieniemy returns for a second coaching stint in Westwood, California, with 19 years between his time with the Bruins. He previously coached running backs at UCLA from 2003-05 before beginning his NFL coaching career. This won’t be his first time as a college offensive coordinator, either: Bieniemy called plays at Colorado, his alma mater, for two seasons (2011-12) prior to joining UCLA.

“This is a great opportunity to work at a historical institution that has produced a number of successful alums in many different professions across the board,” Bieniemy said. “It is an opportunity for my family and I to return back to a place we once called home. This is a great opportunity for me to utilize all of my experience working with future Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame head coach [Andy Reid] to help teach and inspire young men what it takes to be successful on and off the field.”

The Chiefs won two Super Bowls in Bieniemy’s five seasons as Reid’s offensive coordinator from 2018-22, a run that coincided with Patrick Mahomes becoming Kansas City’s starting quarterback and a two-time NFL MVP (2018, 2022). Bieniemy’s units led the NFL in scoring (30.1 points per game) and total offense (406.2 total yards per game) during his Chiefs tenure.

“As an experienced, successful offensive coordinator that went to five straight AFC Championship games, three Super Bowls and won two Super Bowls, my goal is to help generate some excitement for potential student athletes to consider attending UCLA as we collectively prepare for the move to the Big Ten conference in recruiting,” he said.

Bieniemy left Kansas City in 2023 to become assistant head coach/offensive coordinator in Washington under former Commanders head coach Ron Rivera. He was hired prior to the team being sold by Daniel Snyder to a group led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris. 

While the Commanders ranked among the bottom 10 in both scoring offense (19.4 points per game) and total offense (312.8 yards per game) last season, Bieniemy had a tall task in front of him to consistently move the ball. He had 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell at quarterback alongside a defense that ranked dead last in the entire NFL in scoring defense (30.5 points per game), total defense (388.9 total yards per game), passing touchdowns (39) and passer rating (105.7). Thus, Washington called passes on an NFL-high 66.1% of its offensive plays as it faced the third-most time trailing in the 2023 regular season (10:13:21), ahead of only the New York Jets (10:22:04) and Carolina Panthers (10:54:42). 

Howell got off to a hot start, leading the league with 3,339 yards passing through the first 12 weeks of the season, demonstrating Bieniemy’s impact on his development. He finished the season ranked 12th in yards passing (3,946) while leading the league in interceptions (21), sacks taken (65) and pass attempts (612) in his first go as an NFL starting quarterback. He also compiled 21 passing touchdowns and averaged 6.4 yards per pass attempt for a 78.9 passer rating. The adversity of the season eventually took a toll on Howell (as well as the entire organization) with the Commanders finishing 4-13. 

When the offseason began, Bieniemy was in the mix to be retained by new Commanders head coach Dan Quinn, but Quinn opted to bring in former Texas Tech and Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury instead. Now, Bieniemy has his own chance to lead an offense and walk a path similar to other coaches who have made an impact in college football before again garnering NFL interest. 

“There have been plenty of coaches who had a great deal of success in the NFL and have had success on the college level as well: Pete Carroll, Nick Saban, Jim Harbuagh and Kingsbury to name a few,” Bieniemy said.

As a demonstration of his ongoing connection with the Chiefs organization, Bieniemy was invited back into Kansas City’s inner circle to hype up the team prior to their 2023 AFC Championship game victory over the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs won 17-10 and advanced to Super Bowl LVIII where they defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 25-22, in overtime for back to back championships. Mahomes highlighted Bieniemy’s importance to Kansas City last December when the Chiefs were going through a slump. 

“Coach Bieniemy set that standard when he was here, and you could see those lingering effects of the other coaches who have coached underneath EB and then coach [Matt] Nagy,” Mahomes told USA Today’s Chiefs Wire.

Bieniemy has 16 seasons of NFL coaching experience across three different franchises, previously serving as running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2006-10. His coaching path has been a winding road, but Bieniemy is thrilled for his next stop with UCLA. 

“I am so personally fired up about this next chapter in my career that I am having a hard time articulating my excitement!” Bieniemy said. “Last but not least, I am looking forward to embracing this next journey with my head held high to the finish!”





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top