Houston Chronicle

Top-level coaches commend Bieniemy

- By Aaron Wilson STAFF WRITER

Tony Dungy absorbed a ton of knowledge from Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll, one of the greatest tacticians in NFL history.

Dungy, who played defensive back for the Steelers after being a quarterbac­k at the University of Minnesota, launched his coaching career under Noll coaching defensive backs before being promoted to defensive coordinato­r.

It was a long apprentice­ship for Dungy in Pittsburgh with nine years of mentoring and growth overseeing stellar defenses and ultimately launching his path toward becoming a Super Bowl winning coach with the Indianapol­is Colts. Now, Dungy is hoping that his experience will offer a parallel career arc for Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinato­r Eric Bieniemy.

Bienemy, 51, a major part of a high-octane Chiefs offense headlined by quarterbac­k Patrick Mahomes, has been learning from coach Andy Reid and preparing for his first NFL head coaching position. Bieniemy interviewe­d with the Texans for their head coaching vacancy Monday.

The Texans also interviewe­d Baltimore Ravens assistant head coach-receivers coach-passing game coordinato­r David Culley on Monday. They have previously interviewe­d Bills defensive coordinato­r Leslie Frazier, former Rams defensive coordinato­r Brandon Staley, who was hired as the Chargers’ head coach, Colts defensive coordinato­r Matt Eberflus, Panthers offensive coordinato­r Joe Brady, former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell and former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.

Bieniemy is known for his offensive acumen and is regarded as a leader with his intense, high-energy coaching style.

“I’ve been around them and

seen the dynamic and what he’s done with Andy and he’s got all of the credential­s,” Dungy said in a telephone interview. “I think it’s how the players relate to Eric. Everybody I’ve talked to in Kansas City says when things are tough, Eric has a way of getting everybody going. He’s the guy you look to when things are difficult. He’s had a very good learning process with Andy Reid. I benefited from being under Chuck Noll for so long. Being around great people and tremendous coaches is so valuable for the developmen­t of a coach.

“Eric has certain things he wants to do and he believes in. I feel like whomever hires him is going to get the best of both worlds because he is strong-willed and has that belief in what he wants to do and has learned from a future Hall of Famer in Andy.”

The Texans requested to interview Bieniemy last week after new general manager Nick Caserio was on the job. The NFL adapted its rules to allow for for a virtual interview with club consent for coaches still in the playoffs. Kansas City is hosting Buffalo in the AFC title game on Sunday.

Bieniemy is a candidate that Texans quarterbac­k Deshaun Watson, who’s unhappy with the lack of input he had into the general manager hiring process, has publicly and privately endorsed.

By interviewi­ng Bieniemy, considerin­g and potentiall­y hiring him for the job, that could lead to the Texans improving their relationsh­ip with their franchise quarterbac­k and adding a highly respected coach.

“Deshaun is a leader,” Texans defensive end Charles Omenihu said. “It’s not surprising you’re seeing this as far as the leadership side. It’s greatness.”

Dungy emphasized the importance of patience, referencin­g how the Colts were left hanging by Patriots offensive coordinato­r Josh McDaniels only for him to change his mind. They wound up making a good hire in Frank Reich.

“When you look at the Colts and what happened, they got the best person for the job, and he was the right person for the job,” Dungy said. “It’s not about making the fastest hire. It’s about making the right hire, however long it takes.”

Bieniemy interviewe­d for openings with the Falcons, Lions, Jets, Chargers and Jaguars. All those teams have filled their jobs. The only other opening is Philadelph­ia, and Bieniemy has not been on the Eagles’ list.

Reid on Monday strongly endorsed Bieniemy’s candidacy for jobs.

“I mean everybody knows what I think of Eric and what kind of head coach I think he’d be,” Reid said. “Maybe the best I think I can tell you is I hope he goes to the NFC when he has that opportunit­y. Whoever gets him, I think is a very lucky organizati­on, one of the few people that I’ve come across with the leadership skills that he has, the ability to lead men in this crazy game that we’re in and for those guys through his leadership to play at a Pro Bowl level.

“When he gets his hands on you, figurative­ly, he does wonders with athletes, and he’s able to maximize their abilities on the field and he gives them that extra boost to be a productive person off the field and somebody I would have loved for my son to have played for.”

Bieniemy leads the NFL’s topranked offense for the defending Super Bowl champions that includes Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.

Bieniemy’s reputation precedes him in Houston. With the New England Patriots, Caserio earned six Super Bowl rings as the top lieutenant to coach Bill Belichick.

“I’ve talked to some of my friends who’ve played for KC to get a feel for him and it’s nothing but good reviews,” Omenihu said Monday during a community event in the Fifth Ward. “I think Mr. Caserio has an understand­ing of what a good coach looks like from being around Bill, and I think he’ll make the right choice and everything will eventually settle down.”

 ?? Mark Brown / Getty Images ?? Chiefs offensive coordinato­r Eric Bieniemy slipped in an interview with the Texans on Monday.
Mark Brown / Getty Images Chiefs offensive coordinato­r Eric Bieniemy slipped in an interview with the Texans on Monday.

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