July 26, 2021

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Mike Tomlin puzzled why Eric Bieniemy keeps…

3 min read
Mike Tomlin puzzled why Eric Bieniemy keeps...

The Pittsburgh Steelers head coach is wondering when Eric Bieniemy will land a head coach job.

Another hiring cycle has come and gone and Eric Bieniemy is not a head coach. The Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator has led the team to three AFC Championship games, two of which ended with a Super Bowl appearance.

Bieniemy once again was passed up in 2020 when seven head coaching positions were filled. The Rooney Rule as of now already is flawed since there are only five minority head coaches in the NFL.

Of the seven hires made in 2021, the Houston Texans hired the only Black candidate in David Culley.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin recently spoke of how NFL owners have failed to make the proper hirings when looking at minority candidates. Of all those represented, it was Bieniemy’s name that stood out the most for Tomlin.

“Bieniemy is a real head-scratcher for me,” Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Every offensive coordinator Andy Reid has had in the last 20 years got a head job. One of those guys, Brad Childress, hired me in Minnesota in 2006. Now, Andy has the best offense he’s ever had and [Bieniemy] can’t get a job?”

What is the problem in hiring Bieniemy?

With Culley’s hiring, the NFL now has three Black head coaches. That now is fewer than when Tomlin was hired by the Steelers back in 2007. During that season, five Black head coaches were calling the shots.

Since 2017, 27 head coaching jobs have been available in the NFL. Only five have gone to minority coaches, three coming in the last two hiring cycles.

This pattern soon could change with the success of Bruce Arians’ coaching staff in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers became the first NFL team to reach the Super Bowl with a trio of Black assistant coaches serving as coordinators.

Byron Leftwich, who helped Tom Brady regain his confidence, wasn’t even offered an interview. He instead won a Super Bowl.

The 2022 hiring cycle will feature multiple minority candidates that are deserving of a head coaching job. Bieniemy is one of them. In fact, he’ll once again be the most talked-about coordinator looking for a position next offseason.

Will it finally be his time? Tomlin believes it must be.

“Hate is winning in 2021,” Tomlin said. “What we saw in 2020 as a society is proof of that. That’s why it’s hard for me to be optimistic. I have sons who are young men now. They are facing the same situations that I did when I was their age. We’ve gone a generation without improvement.”

Improvement comes in many forms. The first will be hiring more head coaches who best represent the NFL. And yes, hire off both production and the skills best suited for a team.

Should Bieniemy and the Chiefs make their third Super Bowl in four years, what qualifications haven’t been met?

Mike Tomlin puzzled why Eric Bieniemy keeps getting passed up