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Eric Bieniemy lost his bet on himself

Know when to hold ‘em

Arizona Cardinals v Washington Commanders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Since the 2019 offseason, 26 head coaches have been hired (27 if you count Josh McDaniels’ 4 hours with the Colts), some of them more than once. None of them were former Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. There are a few reasons why. One may be that he is black, of those 26 head coaching hires only seven were a minority.

One may be that Bieniemy has a troubled past. As a player at the University of Colorado and then early in his career as an NFL player, Bieniemy was ticketed, issued a warrant for, or arrested multiple times for speeding, fighting, assaulting a firefighter, and assaulting a parking attendant. As a coach at Colorado he was arrested for a DUI and part of a recruiting staff that enticed recruits with booze and strippers at parties, at which multiple women say they were raped.

One may be his coaching, or lack there of. Up until this season, his entire NFL offensive coordinator resume was “occasionally called plays for Patrick Mahomes.” That’s not a very compelling argument, but then neither is “went 12-13 with Patrick Mahomes in college” yet Kliff Kingsbury got a head coaching job.

After five seasons the Chiefs offensive coordinator, Bieniemy realized that in order to move up in the world, he was going to have to move out of Kansas City. In the offseason six teams hired play calling offensive coordinators who weren’t promoted from within or had previously worked for the head coach, the best that it seemed Bieniemy could do was get a job under Ron Rivera, who enters the season on the hot seat for both merit reasons and due to new ownership; and coaching a first year starter who was a 5th round draft pick the year before in Sam Howell. That probably says a lot about what the rest of the league thought of Bieniemy. But he had no choice, he had to bet on himself.

He’s already lost that bet.

The Commanders offense is not just bad, it is a mess. The “highlight” is that Sam Howell is on pace to shatter the sack record. A good or bad sack rate is inherent in a QB, but to have a historically bad one you need some help. The Commanders offensive line is not helping things, but Bieniemy seems unwilling or unable to help his young QB who is not Patrick Mahomes with his coaching.

Running backs Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson are capable pass catchers. In 2022 the Commanders threw to their RBs at the 4th highest rate, this season they are throwing to them at the 6th lowest rate. Screen passes have value in trying to neutralize a pass rush, but the Commanders aren’t even bothering to try. The Commanders have attempted just 11 passes to Robinson or Gibson on 1st down, five of which were after they were already down 24 points to the Bears. Only one of the 11 were in the first quarter. An Andy Reid disciple—who was a running back!—not using running back passes? Unimaginable, but here we are. Last year in Kansas City Clyde Edwards-Helaire alone was thrown to 23 times on first down in the first quarter.

Bieniemy is also refusing to hand the ball off, the Commanders have the lowest run rate of any team (they were 8th heaviest last year). Certainly playing from behind is a contributing factor, the Commanders have over three times as many plays while trailing as they do while leading. But the Panthers have a similar behind/ahead ratio and despite being 29th in rush rate are closer to 15th than they are the 32nd placed Commanders. Bieniemy also has Howell 26th in play action rate out of 34 QBs with at least 140 snaps per Sports Info Solutions.

Last week the Commanders had 15 3rd down attempts. They converted just one of them. They attempted a pass on 14 of those, Howell was sacked three times. On four 2nd and short (<=2 yards) plays, Howell dropped back three times, he was sacked and intercepted. Their only scoring drive came after the Giants muffed a punt and gave the Commanders the ball on the Giants 21 yard line. 13 of the 21 yards, including the TD, were gained on the ground. The Commanders next got the ball back with 7:41 to go in the 3rd quarter of a 14-7 game, Washington ran the ball just six more times the rest of the game.

This isn’t coaching, this is running a playbook with no regard for the strengths and weaknesses of your personnel or the opponent. Eric Bieniemy bet on himself in Washington, and he has lost that bet.

More BS

Bishop Sycamore High School is back!

Fitzgerald said the new Bishop Sycamore staff is seeking to revitalize its reputation and he was contacted.

“Bishop Sycamore, they’re in a rebuilding process, and they basically have worked with a very reputable company that matches high school football games up,” said Fitzgerald, LCA’s first-year coach, adding that the Eagles play all their home games at VSU.

That’s a nice epilogue to their story. No wait, no it is not. You can not revitalize the reputation of a high school team for a school that never existed, that used players who were in their 20s, that couldn’t fly to play IMG Academy because of players who had warrants for their arrest, that played multiple games a week and had no training staff… this is an irredeemable story.

It’s… well… a bunch of BS. On that topic...

This week in “find a way to outlaw the QB sneak”

By now you are aware that Brock Purdy suffered a concussion on a traditional QB sneak on Sunday night. We all know that somehow, some way this will be used in an argument against the Brotherly Shove, even though that makes no sense whatsoever, the 49ers were in a regular QB sneak.

And of course we have seen, on two occasions, the refs confuse Jason Kelce’s arm for Landon Dickerson’s despite them obviously being totally different: one was wearing sleeves, the other was not.

The phantom offsides penalty is infuriating and either A) total incompetence by the officials or B) a directive from the NFL to find a way to dissuade teams from trying it. With no actual way to ban the play the league could, if it wanted to, direct officials to pay extra attention to how offenses are lining up. Which brings up something else bothering me about the officiating: defenses are lining up clearly—hilariously—offsides and they never call it.

The worst offense was the first Commanders-Eagles game, where it appeared that Deron Payne had his hand under the ball and the refs did not call it.

Also his helmet is practically touching Kelce’s.

Now take a look at the Purdy sneak.

#90 is offsides. That should be a free five yards for the 49ers and no risk of injury for anyone.

But I’m playing a bit of a trick on you. It is after all Halloween season. That was the 49ers second sneak attempt, the one after Purdy was concussed. This is the first one:

#90 is even more offsides! He’s beyond the neutral zone, the top of his helmet is past the top of the center’s.

I guess we can take some comfort in that the officials aren’t just screwing over the Eagles.

College Football Watch List Week 9

Bad slate of games this week, so it’s a channel surfing week with an eye on no positions or players in particular. Or games, beyond:

-Florida vs Georgia: Because why not.

-Oregon vs Utah: Either Dan Lanning’s fourth down calls or a pig farmer will emerge victorious!

-Colorado vs UCLA: either the Deion Sanders hype train loses or Chip Kelly loses, what’s not to like?

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