We’re more than a month away from the Detroit Lions making meaningful progress with their general manager and head coaching searches, but one of the top candidates for the latter position figures to be Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Bieniemy, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith are largely viewed at the front of the line among NFL assistants for this hiring cycle.
And while Saleh is generating plenty of early buzz for the Lions position, particularly after 36 state lawmakers endorsed the Dearborn native’s candidacy, the Lions are planning an extensive search for both of their vacancies.
This week, the Lions play the Chicago Bears, who are led by Matt Nagy. Prior to joining Chicago in 2018, he worked five years in Kansas City with Bieniemy. Asked Friday about his former colleague’s candidacy, in Detroit and elsewhere, Nagy had plenty of positive things to say.
“I appreciate you bringing his name up because Eric is one of the coaches that I’ve coached with for a long time that I have an amazing amount of respect for,” Nagy said. “He’s somebody that in 2013, when I first came to Kansas City with him, you could see right away his extreme passion and knowledge for the game.
“The one thing about coach Bieniemy is he demands ultimate respect from his players,” Nagy continued. “Number one, he’s been there as a player. Number two, he’s an excellent teacher. And he’s a teacher that can lead. When you have a guy like that, that has instant credibility. He’s been learning from one of the greatest coaches to ever coach in NFL history, so you take all that, you tie it together, you have the personality that he has and you know that he’s going to be really, really good as a football coach.”
Nagy started in Kansas City as a quarterbacks coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016. Bieniemy was the team’s running backs coach all five years they worked together and was promoted to replace Nagy after he took the Chicago position.
As Nagy mentioned, both have been groomed under the tutelage of Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who has an extensive coaching tree that’s had NFL success. That group includes five current head coaches — John Harbaugh, Doug Pederson, Ron Rivera, Sean McDermott and Nagy.