Chiefs say new Commanders coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s intense style will pay off eventually

FILE - Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy greets fans as he arrives for an NFL football practice at the team's training facility, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Ashburn, Va. Bieniemy is now at work in his new job as Washington's offensive coordinator, bringing a vocal approach and two Super Bowl rings to an organization that hasn't won a playoff game in nearly two decades. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs have heard about some of the concerns coming out of the Washington Commanders camp about the intensity of their new offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy.

Chiefs players who spent the past five years playing for Bieniemy think they’re better for having endured it.


“He’s going to really try to get the best out of you every single day,” Mahomes said after Friday’s practice. “He’s going to hold you accountable even when you don’t want to hold yourself accountable, and he made me a better player.”

Bieniemy joined the Chiefs as running backs coach when Andy Reid took over as head coach in 2013, then was promoted to offensive coordinator when Matt Nagy left to become the head coach in Chicago in 2018. He helped the Chiefs win seven consecutive AFC West titles, host five straight AFC title games, reach three Super Bowls and bring home two Lombardi Trophies.

That’s the track record of success Bieniemy took to Washington in a bid to revamp coach Ron Rivera’s offensive system.

But the way Bieniemy has gone about it was thrown into question this week when Rivera let slip that some of his players were concerned about Bieniemy’s intense style — remarks that Rivera spoke to Bieniemy about and attempted to clarify a day later.

Many of Bieniemy’s former players supported him on Twitter, including Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill and former running back Jamaal Charles. But perhaps nobody’s voice carries more weight in the NFL these days than that of Mahomes, the reigning league MVP, who was responsible for running Bieniemy’s offense on a daily basis the past five years.

“EB is going to be harsh on you,” Mahomes said, but “he’ll go to war with you like any other guy on the team. You have to know that. You have to know that when he’s talking to you on the football field, he’s trying to get the best out of you. He’s not trying to put you down. He’s trying to push you to be even better than you think you can be.

“So that’s something I think they’ll understand when they go out there and start winning football games.”

Bieniemy, the former University of Colorado standout, teamed with Duce Staley in Philadelphia as running backs for the Eagles under Reid. Staley is now the assistant head coach in Carolina, and like Bieniemy, coaches with a no-nonsense style.

“They’re going to love you but they’re going to tell you the truth. That’s the thing I appreciate about them,” Reid said. “They know what it takes to play at this level, a championship-caliber level, and there’s a difference. Nothing comes easy.”

The Commanders finished .500 last season, going 8-8-1, but they haven’t had a winning season since 2016. And a big part of the problem was an offense that was in the bottom half of the league and averaged just 18.9 points per game.

Bieniemy’s decision to head to Washington could be viewed as a lateral one — he was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, too. But he also had been passed over numerous time for head coaching jobs, and many believe a big part of the reason was that front offices elsewhere viewed Reid as the play-caller and offensive mastermind.

Bieniemy has an opportunity to put his own imprint on the Washington offense. And he apparently intends to do it his way.

“That’s his personality. Nothing wrong with that. Guys play for him and he’s had great success,” Reid said. “You always talk about letting your personality show, and I think that’s an important part of that. I think when it’s all said and done, guys (in Washington) are going to appreciate that. He’s going to challenge you, but the guys are going to appreciate it when they’re winning.”

NOTES: Reid said the starters, including Mahomes, would play most of the first quarter in Sunday’s preseason opener in New Orleans. Backups will go the rest of the way. … DT Tershawn Wharton (knee), CB L’Jarius Sneed (knee), WR Kadarius Toney (knee) and RB Isiah Pacheco (hand, shoulder) will not play against the Saints. … DE Charles Omenihu will play Sunday. He was suspended for the first six games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, but he is eligible to participate in all three preseason games.

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