Two more candidates, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, will interview for the New York Giants head-coaching vacancy on Saturday.
Let’s learn more about them.
What we know about Eric Bieniemy
The following was written by Pete Sweeney of SB Nation’s Chiefs web site, Arrowhead Pride.
Eric Bieniemy, 50, has been with the Kansas City Chiefs ever since Andy Reid arrived to the team in 2013. Bieniemy spent five years as the team’s running backs coach (2013-17) before being promoted to offensive coordinator when Matt Nagy left to become the head coach of the Chicago Bears (2018), a position he has held for the last two seasons. Last offseason, Bieniemy interviewed with the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he reportedly turned down an interview from the Arizona Cardinals.
Bieniemy is known for his fiery coaching style, and he demands respect from his players. Bieniemy and tight end Travis Kelce were caught by NBC cameras jawing with each other during the Chiefs’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts earlier in 2019. Kelce initially shoved, then later hugged Bieniemy, adding he loves him later that week.
That is not surprising, as when asked, Bieniemy’s players will typically say they love to play for him.
“When you get a guy like EB, who puts in the time, who is a great leader of players and men and can really control and have a presence in any room that he walks in, you understand why these other teams are looking at him to be their head coach,” said Patrick Mahomes on Monday. “We are obviously focusing on our goal right now, but we know with who he is and how he operates, he’ll have the opportunities to go places and have success.”
Visit Chiefs training camp, and Bieniemy is the most audible coach, always yelling at his skill-position players to finish every rep to the end zone.
“Score! Score! Score!” is the common phrase heard at camp.
The underlying problem with getting a good read on Bieniemy’s coaching production has been his outstanding personnel. His two years as an offensive coordinator have been with Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 MVP, leading the offense.
In addition, Bieniemy spent five of his six years as Chiefs running backs coach mentoring Jamaal Charles, and his NFL stint before that, from 2006-10 with the Minnesota Vikings, included the first four seasons of Adrian Peterson.
Another question some have brought up is his lack of NFL play-calling experience. Reid, who calls the plays for the Chiefs, was purposeful in refuting the theory that it should be a determinant when hiring a head coach.
”It seems like play-calling is always the issue,” said Reid last week. “[Bieniemy] called during the preseason. He helps me with all of the set-ups. The only reason I do it is because I enjoy doing it. I don’t enjoy this (talking to the media), but I enjoy that. It’s one of those things. If that’s the issue, that shouldn’t be an issue.
“Most of all, you’re going to get a leader of men. That’s what he does. He knows football like the back of his hand. He is passionate about it and a great person. I’m a big fan of his. Don’t really want to lose him, but I have a feeling that’s going to happen. Somebody is getting a championship-caliber coach there.”
Reid added he doesn’t believe that play-calling in the regular season is necessarily an indicator of what will be a good head coach.
”I never called a play before I became a head coach,” said Reid. “Heck, I was a line coach.”
Reid even advocated for Bieniemy on Monday after the news broke that the Panthers and Giants were interested.
“We would all miss him, but [the players] would all stand up and tell you what he is all about. He is a leader of men. He is going to shoot you straight. Honest, honest, honest. They also know and respect his mind. Every week, he and I sit down, and we put together this game plan sheet with 200-plus plays on it. He memorizes every play, every formation. Just ba-boom, on recall, just like that. Every week, I go, ‘Listen, are you good with this?’ He goes, ‘No problem, got it.’ A lot of hard work goes into it. Plus, he is a brilliant dude.”
Last Thursday, Bieniemy showed appreciation for head-coaching consideration before directing the attention back to the Chiefs’ task at hand.
“It’s always great to be recognized for an opportunity down the line,” said Bieniemy. “It’s truly a blessing. Do not get me wrong. I am very honored. to have that opportunity for my name to be placed out there. When it’s all said and done with, I have a job to do. That job right now, is to make sure we’re prepped and ready to play the Chargers on Sunday.”
During the two years in between NFL stints (2011-12), Bieniemy returned to his alma mater, Colorado, as the offensive coordinator. The Buffs went a combined 4-21 and the coaching staff was let go.
Bieniemy is Colorado’s all-time leader in rushing (3,940 yards) and touchdowns (42). He spent nine seasons as a running back in the NFL with the Chargers, Bengals and Eagles. He coached at Colorado and UCLA prior to his first job with the Vikings in the NFL.
What to know about Don ‘Wink’ Martindale
The 56-year-old Martindale has been an NFL assistant since 2004 with the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos and the Ravens. He was defensive coordinator in Denver in 2010, and with the highly-rated Ravens’ defense the past two seasons.
Kyle Barber of SB Nation’s Ravens web site, Baltimore Beatdown, sent the following report on Martindale:
Don is a great coach and a better person from my experiences with him. He’s a classic no-nonsense coach.
During training camp, he would give a full overview on players and position groups before opening up to questions, which I appreciated.
I think Martindale is head coach material. I hope he doesn’t leave for the sake of the Ravens losing an outstanding leader and coach for their defense.
Martindale turned the Ravens back into an aggressive defense with a hunger for takeaways and playmaking. Before, Dean Pees played classic, “bend don’t break,” which left the Ravens in one-score games and quarterbacks carved up their zone schemes and lackluster blitz packages. Now, we’re witnessing unique concepts which get the job done.
I’m not sure how he could handle the offense and I’m not going to pretend to know. He’ll likely need a solid offensive coordinator.
As for him as a head coach, I believe Don ‘Wink’ Martindale is a leader who can help bring about positive change and a winning culture to any franchise. He’d be a significant loss for the Ravens.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Martindale is Ian Rapoport’s report that he would try to bring LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady with him to run his offense. There have been subsequent reports that LSU coach Ed Orgeron believes the Tigers can keep Brady at LSU.
Brady moved from the New Orleans Saints to LSU this season and is largely credited with turning quarterback Joe Burrow into the Heisman Trophy winner and likely No. 1 pick in the draft, as well as turning a previously pedestrian LSU offense into a high-flying unit that has the Tigers playing for a national title.
The Giants have already interviewed Dallas defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard and former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy for the job.