ASHBURN, Va. — Before heading out to the field for another Washington Commanders offseason practice, coach Ron Rivera declared everyone would be able to hear new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Rivera wasn’t kidding.
Bieniemy, the two-time Super Bowl-winning assistant who spent the last 10 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, was audible to just about everybody, no matter where they were in the practice facility. No matter if the music was blaring from speakers during position workouts or players yelled during 7-on-7 drills, Bieniemy wouldn’t be drowned out.
“We got to get up to the line of scrimmage!”
“Watch your body language!”
“Who’s going to make that block if you don’t?”
Those were some of the words of wisdom shouted out by the 53-year-old assistant who made the decision to break away from Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes this offseason in order to perhaps get a better shot at a head coaching opportunity in the future.
“I’m pretty loud at every practice, but it’s fun,” Bieniemy said Thursday. “The thing that I want them to understand while we’re out there is maximizing every single opportunity that we have, so yes, you have to create energy. We have to bring that energy so our players can feed off of that so they can be excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Second-year quarterback Sam Howell, the projected Week 1 starter, said Bieniemy cares about the details.
“He’s very hard on us, and he sets a high standard,” Howell said. “But that’s what we want.”
What the Commanders want is just a bit of the success the Chiefs experienced over the past five seasons with Bieniemy as offensive coordinator. They won the Super Bowl twice, reached a third and also made two additional AFC title game appearances.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Commanders.
Washington has not appeared in a conference championship game since winning a third Super Bowl in a 10-year period in the 1991 season. That same season, Bieniemy began his nine-year playing career in the NFL as a rookie running back for the San Diego Chargers.
Yes, it has been a while.
If the energetic Bieniemy is going to help turn Washington around and in the process prove to some that he’s ready to be a head coach sooner rather than later, he will need consistent play at QB.
That’s been far easier said than done for Washington since the long-ago glory days.
Last season, Howell became the eighth different QB to start in Rivera’s first three seasons, leading the Commanders to a 26-6 win over playoff-bound Dallas in Week 18.
Whoever is under center Sept. 10 against Arizona — Howell or veteran Jacoby Brissett, who was signed in the offseason from Cleveland — will be the seventh different Week 1 starter in as many seasons for Washington.
“This is a quarterback-driven league,” Rivera said. “That is what the difference is. The teams having success right now have consistent quarterbacks.”
This is not a problem Bieniemy faced at his last stop. Mahomes was drafted in the first round in 2017 to be Kansas City’s future franchise QB.
Howell was once projected to be a top-10 pick but slipped to the fifth round in 2022 before Washington finally took a chance on the North Carolina product.
Attempting to emulate the highly decorated Mahomes, a two-time league MVP and two-time Super Bowl MVP with five Pro Bowl selections, would be difficult for anyone. Still, Howell has been studying film of Mahomes since Bieniemy was hired in February.
“Once I knew we had EB, I was kind of watching Kansas City film and kind of seeing what they were doing,” Howell said. “Obviously, I watch the film and I think Patrick does a heck of a job and he excels on extending the play and making those off platform throws.”
“I think I’m capable of making plays myself. I don’t try and go out there and be anybody else. I try to go out there and be the best version of myself.”