| The Detroit News
Before the Detroit Lions hire a new coach, they’ll likely hire a general manager. But when they get around to addressing the former vacancy, Eric Bieniemy figures to merit strong consideration.
And if we’re being honest, he’s going to be on the radar of most, if not all of the teams looking for new leadership this offseason.
A nine-year NFL veteran, Bieniemy has been coaching for two decades, spending the past eight working under Andy Reid in Kansas City. There he’s coordinated some of the most prolific offenses in league history.
And while those credentials should be enough to get anyone’s attention, a quick reference check of those who have been in the building with Bieniemy only solidifies his candidacy.
Lions quarterback Chase Daniel spent three years in Kansas City with Bieniemy, when the latter was still serving as the team’s running backs coach. But there was enough overlap with their working relationship that Daniel didn’t hesitate when asked for his opinion on Bieniemy’s preparedness to run his own team.
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“I think he’ll be awesome,” Daniel said. “I don’t know what else he needs to do to prove himself. He’s a very great person. He’s strict, but he’s fun. He’s a player’s coach and he expects excellence, especially in the offensive positional groups. I can only imagine what that’s going to be like when it takes to the whole team.
“He’s really good in front of guys,” Daniel said. “I feel like this league, like as an NFL head coach, you got to be good in front of the guys. You have to earn their respect. You have to be a leader each and every day, everything you do. If you’re not authentic, and I think that he is, then guys are going to see right through you. I think he’s super authentic. I think he’s a perfect guy for a head job.”
Bieniemy is also a natural motivator who isn’t afraid to leave his lane to pick up a player who is struggling. That’s what happened with linebacker Reggie Ragland, who was down on himself after losing his starting job with the Chiefs ahead of the 2019 season.
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Demoted to working with the scout team, Ragland made it a personal mission to ruin the offense’s day, every practice. That caught the eye of Bieniemy, who pulled the linebacker aside and offered words of encouragement that resonated.
“First two games I sat out, but I was still on scout team and I made it my sole purpose during practice to mess up practice for our offense,” Ragnow said. “During that time I was doing that he was like, ‘Hey man, Reggie, we see you. Keep fighting. Your chance is going to come back to you and when it comes, you just gotta be ready.’
“… I appreciate him as a person and as a coach,” Ragland said. “He’s one of the realist dudes, straightforward dudes you’re ever going to see. He’s a helluva coach. I can’t say nothing bad about him, so I won’t. He’s a great dude and he’s an excellent coach, (and an) excellent person at the end of the day, too. He loves his players, so I respect him a lot.”
And to top it off, Bieniemy’s credibility is solidified by the Super Bowl ring he won with the Chiefs last season, with the potential of earing a second this year.
“It’s automatic respect, right?” Daniel said. “Not many people have a ring. You come in there and you don’t flaunt it, but you say, ‘Hey, listen, this is what it takes to get a ring. I just did it.’ It’s automatic respect. How can you argue with that if you’re a player in a room and you’re like, ‘No, I don’t believe you. I want to do it this way.’ You’ll be like, ‘All right, bought in, let’s go win a ring,’ because, ultimately, why are you playing this game? It’s to win a championship. It’s to win a ring, and they’ve done it. It’s pretty special.”