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Eric Bieniemy on departing the Commanders: ‘I was not fired’

When Dan Quinn was introduced as the new head coach of the Washington Commanders earlier this month, he was asked about Eric Bieniemy. Bieniemy had served as Washington’s offensive coordinator in 2023 and was under contract for 2024.

“I think he’s an excellent coach,” Quinn said on Feb. 5. “I had a chance to visit with him today. We’ll continue that dialogue, but we’re not going to work together here, but in this coaching brotherhood, I wanted him to know, man, I really respect the work that he’s done……I wish EB nothing but the best and he’ll do a great job.”

On Saturday, Bieniemy’s next destination was revealed. He was returning to the college game to be UCLA’s offensive coordinator/associate head coach for new coach DeShaun Foster.

To say Bieniemy’s one season in Washington didn’t go well would be an understatement. Bieniemy’s offense ranked first in passing attempts and last in rushing attempts, despite starting Sam Howell at quarterback, a 2021 fifth-round pick with only one NFL start on his resume entering 2023.

The Commanders were ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in most offensive metrics, including FTN’s offensive DVOA (26th).

After Quinn took over as head coach, he hired Kliff Kingsbury as his new offensive coordinator and put together an impressive offensive staff that included former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and former Eagles OC Brian Johnson.

In an email to ESPN Saturday confirming his decision to join UCLA, Bieniemy mentioned he had other NFL opportunities and that he had been “applauded and lauded.”

He talked about why he was excited to join Foster and help UCLA.

And then he mentioned his former team:

“I have no regrets with the Commanders,” Bieniemy wrote. “Contrary to what some think and what has been put out in the media, I was not fired. I actually just chose not to stay. Learned a lot and that is always a good thing.

That conflicts with what Quinn said. Maybe the word “fired” was never used when Quinn and the Commanders discussed Bieniemy’s time in Washington, but there was no way Bieniemy was returning in 2024. It’s not personal from Washington’s end, either. The results speak for themselves.

Look, Bieniemy deserves a pass for some of the things he had to deal with in 2023, but he didn’t help things. There are the aforementioned lackluster results, the failure to run the ball to help a young quarterback, but it was his alleged issues with players that were a larger problem.

It began as early as training camp when former head coach Ron Rivera acknowledged some players had come to him to discuss Bieniemy’s coaching style. Rivera backed off those comments a day later, but there were clear issues.

Those issues were brought to the surface again in December. After the season, several players, veterans such as Charles Leno Jr., Logan Thomas, and Sam Cosmi, didn’t exactly give Bieniemy a ringing endorsement.

In short, Bieniemy wasn’t coming back to Washington. He can phrase it however he likes; that’s his choice. But Quinn and new GM Adam Peters were moving forward with a new offense and a new offensive coordinator.

It is interesting that Bieniemy would choose to mention his departure from Washington and what “has been put out in the media.” Nothing from the Commanders was “put out in the media.” It came straight from the new head coach.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire