Eric Bieniemy is a coordinator for a defending Super Bowl champion, on its way back to the big game on the strength of the side of the ball he oversees. Bieniemy is 51 years old, has had experience as an assistant head coach with the Vikings, and has a couple of college assistant jobs on his resume, as well.
We’re well past the point of it being obvious that the only reason Bieniemy isn’t an NFL head coach right now is the color of his skin. A white man with the same CV would have one of the 32 top jobs in the league right now, and it’s a sad farce that Bieniemy doesn’t.
There is one vacancy left on this offseason’s coaching carousel, and Bieniemy is deservedly in the running to take over the Houston Texans.
Here’s hoping he doesn’t get it.
Bieniemy doesn’t just deserve a job as an NFL head coach, he deserves one where there’s a real opportunity to lead a winning team. The Texans are not going to be that anytime soon. After winning four AFC South titles in five years, the Texans crashed to 4-12 this year, and there’s every reason to believe that this is the beginning of extended doldrums, rather than a blip like the 4-12 season in 2017.
The Texans are so far over the salary cap that even trading Deshaun Watson wouldn’t get them under, and trading Deshaun Watson would mean, well ... it would mean trading Deshaun Watson. Good luck to the Texans finding another quarterback in a league that comes down to having a great quarterback — and Watson reportedly wants out no matter who the next Houston coach is.
So, with or without Watson, the Texans have a cap crunch. They have to deal with the fact that the face of the franchise for the last decade, J.J. Watt, is 31 years old and, while still a really good defensive end, very much in decline.
On a wider basis than their household names, the Texans are in dire straits, too. Houston’s offensive line surrendered 50 sacks in 2020, more than everyone in the NFL except the Eagles. On the ground, the Texans averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry, but had only five runs for 20 or more yards all season — only the Jets had fewer — and David Johnson isn’t on the upswing at the age of 29.
Defensively this season, the Texans allowed completions on 69.7 percent of pass attempts, the highest rate in the league. It wasn’t just cheapies, either, because the eight yards per passing attempt allowed by Houston was tied with the Dolphins for the third-highest figure in the NFL. The Texans intercepted three passes all season while giving up 30 passing touchdowns. And it’s not like this was because they were busy stopping the run, because Houston allowed 24 rushing touchdowns, fewer than only the Lions, an NFL-worst 5.2 yards per carry.
A team that was complete trash all over the field and sits in salary cap hell can at least count on improving through the draft, right? Wrong. Houston doesn’t pick until the third round this year. They could get back into the first round — the high first round, at that — by trading Watson ... but then, again, that means no longer having Watson. And they wind up hoping that whichever quarterback they take with the pick acquired for Watson winds up being as good as him (again, good luck). And even if that does eventually happen, it’s going to take time, not only for that quarterback to develop, but to rebuild the entire rest of the team.
There are only 32 NFL head coaching jobs, and when you’ve been waiting as long as Bieniemy has, you’re not going to say no to an opportunity to finally grab one when it’s offered. But the best thing the Texans can do for Bieniemy as an NFL head coach is to offer their job to somebody else, let him return to Kansas City to try to lead Patrick Mahomes and that offense to a third straight Super Bowl appearance, and go get a job next offseason where he’ll actually have a chance to succeed, because no matter who winds up in Houston, it’s not going to go well.