Eric Bieniemy would bring instant success to a franchise as head coach, says Jacksonville Jaguars great Maurice Jones-Drew.
Bieniemy, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator since 2018, has been linked with several jobs in the past.
But despite his high-scoring, high-octane tandem with head coach Andy Reid, Bieniemy has so far been overlooked for top jobs with NFL teams.
Eric Bieniemy has continually been overlooked for head coaching jobs in the last three years
Maurice Jones-Drew has backed Bieniemy to succeed, should he finally get his chance
Following Jon Gruden’s resignation, the Las Vegas Raiders are the first franchise with a vacancy in 2022 – but there will be more.
‘I think once someone gives Eric Bieniemy an opportunity, and they look past kind of the way he coaches and his style, you’ll see success right away,’ says Jones-Drew, who was coached by Bieniemy at UCLA.
‘Before he coached me he coached Chris Brown, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist. Then he coached myself at UCLA, then he went to Minnesota where he helped Chester Taylor. Then he made Adrian Peterson an All Pro – even though he was really good, don’t get me wrong – but Adrian Peterson hasn’t been the same since Bieniemy left Minnesota, right?
‘Then he goes to Kansas City where he coaches Jamaal Charles who has the highest yards per rush.
‘And then he becomes an OC there. Patrick Mahomes in his first year there he wins MVP, the second year they win the Super Bowl. Third year, they go back, right! So it’s just like success follows him!’
Alongside head ocach Andy Reid, Bieniemy has forged an unstoppable offense in Kansas City
Jones-Drew described Bieniemy’s coaching style as ‘my way or the highway’, but says it’s a surefire way to success.
‘Now, his style of coaching isn’t like for everyone to like – it’s not to be liked, it’s to make sure that you’re the best player that you can be. And so I think sometimes in NFL and again you we have people who run organisations, right, that we’ve seen over the last couple of days that aren’t the, you know, right stuff…’
And Jones-Drew revealed Bieniemy has approached him about joining his staff, should the day come.
“He’s actually told me: “Maybe you can come on”. I’m like: “Bro, I love my job! I love coming over to the UK, I love speaking to the Brits here and having a good time. I don’t know if I want to go into being a coach and then possibly getting fired. Fired! I don’t want to do that anymore, I’m OK. But I know when he does get a job, he’ll be phenomenal.’
Jones-Drew had an elite coaching staff in his three years at UCLA. Current San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was a graduate assistant, John Embree was tight ends coach and Tom Cable the offensive line coach.
Kyle Shanahan, son of Hall of Fame coach Mike, is one of the brightest offensive minds
Jones-Drew spoke about the strengths of each man.
‘Bieniemy was the running back coach, the guy who recruited me out of high school. He taught me how to play the game of football. I played for a really good high school, and they did the best they could for the high school level, but when you get to the college and NFL level you need a different type of experience, a different type of coaching – a coach who has kind of been there and played the game at the position that I play, right?
‘He coached after playing nine years in the NFL. And he understood what I would say like, you know, I got stuck in a hole or if I got stuck trying to do something – he could understand what that meant. ‘And so he’s able to coach around and coach through some of the mental breaks or walls that I hit as a young player.
Jones-Drew (above in 2009) made the Pro Bowl three times and led the NFL in rushing in 2011
‘My first year I had Kyle Shanahan who, as we know is, one of the bright young minds who helped me learn and understand the bigger picture of an offense.
‘I can see the way he taught me is how he coaches – it’s about the players and getting the ball into certain players’ hands and space and how they move and shift and how you can really manipulate a defense to do what you want them to do.
‘From there, another guy on Kyle’s staff is John Embree, who was a tight end coach who coached Mercedes Lewis, who was the John Mackey Award winner, who also recruited me out of high school, so one of my good friends today.
‘I think he, he allowed us to be us, right? Where Bieniemy was more like ‘my way or the highway’, John Embree allowed us to be us. He allowed us to go out and have swagger and play with confidence and talk trash and all those things.
‘And then Tom Cable is another one of the best offensive line minds that we played with. When he got to UCLA we were averaging 40 points a game. And we ran kind of what I do now, we ran like seven plays ran out of different formations.
These days Jones-Drew is regularly seen on NFL Network and is an analyst for the LA Rams
‘But it allowed us to play fast and so I took a lot from what I got from all those guys, and I put into what I do now coaching or when I’m calling games or when I’m talking about certain things.
‘And Karl Dorrell, who was the was the head coach at the time and is now as the head coach of the University of Colorado, he was a coach for the Jets and the Dolphins for a little bit while he was in the NFL and a couple other teams.
‘I mean, there was so much knowledge, NFL experience so much knowledge of the game. Those three years I was there, it’s like, if you didn’t know football by then, then you’re weren’t trying!’
Watch Jacksonville Jaguars vs Miami Dolphins at the NFL London Games live from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this Sunday, 17th October on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and NFL Game Pass from 2PM, listen on talkSport and catch highlights on Sky Sports NFL.