The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have completed the first interview in their search for a new head coach, meeting with Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Wednesday.
Jason Licht flew to Kansas City to conduct the interview. The Chiefs are in the playoffs after winning the AFC West but are enjoying a first-round bye, which gives Bieniemy a window to interview with teams regarding coaching vacancies.
Bieniemy, who played nine years in the NFL as a running back, was promoted to offensive coordinator by the Chiefs this year after five seasons as the team's running backs coach. He guided Kansas City to a team-record 565 points in 2018 as the Chiefs finished atop the league rankings in that category as well as in total yards 6,810. Kansas City also ranked first in yards per play (6.84), first in yards per pass play (8.14), second in third-down conversion rate (47.2%), second in red zone touchdown percentage (71.8%), third in passing yards per game (309.7) and third in first downs per game (24.0).
Under Bieniemy's guidance, 23-year-old quarterback Patrick Mahomes emerged as a leading NFL MVP candidate. In his first full year as a starter after playing just one game in his 2017 rookie campaign, Mahomes threw a league-leading 50 touchdown passes and was intercepted just 12 times. He completed 66.0% of his passes, averaged 8.8 yards per pass attempt and finished with a stellar passer rating of 111.7.
Bieniemy began his coaching career at his alma mater, Colorado, tutoring the Buffaloes running backs in 2001 and 2002. He filled the same position at UCLA from 2003-05 before making the move to the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings in 2006. He worked under Head Coach Brad Childress for five seasons in Minnesota before returning to Colorado as the offensive coordinator in 2011. That second stint with the Buffaloes lasted two seasons before he joined Andy Reid on the Chiefs' staff in 2013.
Kansas City's offense ranked ninth in rushing yards in 2017, Bieniemy's last year in charge of the team's tailbacks before his promotion to offensive coordinator. The Chiefs also ranked sixth in that category in 2015. Jamaal Charles surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in 2013 and 2014, Bieniemy's first two seasons with the Chiefs, and Kareem Hunt posted 1,327 rushing yards as a rookie in 2017.
The Buccaneers are in the early stages of the search for the 12th head coach in franchise history. He will succeed Dirk Koetter, who held the position from 2016-18. The new head coach will inherit an offense that finished first in the NFL in passing yards and third in total yards while breaking most of the team's all-time offensive records. Tampa Bay's offense also features a young quarterback, as Jameis Winston will just turn 25 this month despite already starting four seasons in the NFL.