The first puff of smoke has emerged from Cincinnati, in the form of multiple assistant coaches being relieved of their duties. This move implies plenty, and it invites plenty more speculation.
Here’s what folks around the league definitely believe: (1) the Bengals know who they want; (2) the person they want isn’t available to be hired yet (because his team is still playing); (3) the person they want has preliminarily indicated he wants the job; and (4) the person they want has indicated that he won’t want those assistant coaches to stick around.
There’s nothing else tangible at this point, although there’s an emerging belief that 81-year-old owner Mike Brown has delegated much of the decision-making on this next hire to his daughter, Katie Blackburn, and her husband, Troy. That’s sparking speculation that they indeed have gone out of the building for a new coach, that it likely will be an offensive-minded coach (the opposite of Marvin Lewis), and that it very well could be the next guy from a line of offensive coordinators who have become successful head coaches: Eric Bieniemy of the Chiefs.
Bieniemy addressed his situation with reporters on Wednesday.
“I’d like to thank coach [Andy] Reid for really trusting me and putting me in this situation to have this opportunity,” Bieniemy said. “Also, grateful that Clark [Hunt] and Mark [Donovan] would agree to allow me to be the coordinator. I will say this, I’ve said this to a few people that I’ve had the opportunity to speak to. Everyone should be blessed and fortunate to have that opportunity. It gives you the opportunity to see things from a different perspective, but on top of that it’s one of those things that, ‘Hey, you know what, I’ve been working a lot of years to be put in this situation to have this opportunity.’ But that was last week, this is now. Now, it’s on to the Colts.”
Watch the video of Bieniemy’s comments, which as noted by Joe Goodberry of TheAthletic.com include a smile that potentially gives away Bieniemy’s knowledge that he’s in the process of parlaying his opportunity to be the Kansas City offensive coordinator into a head-coaching job of his own.
The Bengals could do a lot worse (and, by considering Hue Jackson for the job, they almost did). Chiefs players have raved about Bieniemy, who succeeded Matt Nagy and Doug Pederson. At a time when Bengals fans aren’t raving about anything relating to their team, Bieniemy could be the key to turning things around.