Washington Commanders assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy wrapped up his introductory press conference earlier today. Here are five takeaways from his time addressing the media.
1. "Why not Washington?"
It was one of the questions many asked when the news broke that Bieniemy would be leaving the Kansas City Chiefs, who had just won a Super Bowl, to join the Commanders' coaching staff.
Bieniemy responded to those queries with one of his own.
"Why not Washington?" Bieniemy asked a room full of reporters. "Look at all the talent. Look at the players that they have. Look at the guys that they have on defense."
Washington may be Bieniemy's first new team in a decade, but he is not walking into a completely foreign situation. He has known head coach Ron Rivera since 1999, and he has followed his career throughout that 24-year period. He views Rivera as "a man of integrity" and "a great leader of men." The way he sees it, why would he not want to work for someone like that?
But his familiarity does not stop there. He has had relationships with general manager Martin Mayhew and senior director of player development Eric Stokes for "a number of years," so he did not need a detailed description of what Washington is trying to build. He knows the kind of people they are, and that means something to him.
Bieniemy wants to be around like-minded individuals who all strive for the same goal. He believes he has that in Washington, so the move was an easy decision for him.
2. He is impressed with the talent on the roster.
Bieniemy did not offer much on his thoughts about the Commanders' offensive roster. There is plenty of work to be done, and he wants to evaluate every player, and that process is going to take time.
With that said, it was clear that he likes what he has seen so far.
"Obviously, there's some talent here," Bieniemy said.
Bieniemy has not sat down the Mayhew, Rivera and executive vice president of football/player personnel Marty Hurney to break down the offense yet, but he is not starting from scratch. He did a lot of work studying the players when they were college prospects, including the likes of Sam Howell.
In short, there is a lot that Bieniemy likes.
"The kid is a dynamic football player," Bieniemy said. "He can make throws from different platforms. You can tell he has that baseball background."
3. He values building relationships.
Bieniemy has a long list of goals in his new role with the Commanders, and most of them revolve around getting players to buy into his system and trust that he will put them in the best position to succeed.
And to him, there is only one way to do that.
"That's about developing relationships, and you gotta get to know the people," Bieniemy said.
Bieniemy has either played or coached football at every level, and one thing that has not changed is the importance of getting to know players. That is what he appreciates about every coach he has ever had, from high school to the NFL. He also had to do that coaching for the University of Colorado, and he spent much of his time getting to know recruits and their families.
The need for building bonds with players does not change at the professional level, and Bieniemy believes that is the best way to maximize players' skill set.
"That's how you get the best out of people," Bieniemy said. "And that's how you get the best out of players. Now, you may have some success at times, and at times you may not, but it's not gonna be because I fell short in getting to know who Brian Robinson is, Antonio or Sam or Curtis Samuel, any of them … I mean, hell, you have to get to know the people."
4. He wants to emphasize effort.
There are a few things Bieniemy will not tolerate from his players. One of them is a lack of effort, and he made it clear where he stands on the subject.
"If you can't play with any effort, I got a personal problem with that."
There is a reason why Bieniemy allows no leeway when it comes to players giving effort. "It requires no God-given ability to play with second effort," he said, and doing things like making blocks downfield make all the difference to him.
Fortunately, Bieniemy should not have a problem finding players who give extra effort in Washington. Rivera has often praised his players for fighting to the final whistle, but Bieniemy wants to stress that point even further.
"We gotta learn to strain to finish," Bieniemy said. "If you've ever wanted anything in life, you gotta fight for it, and that's one thing we gonna learn to do. It doesn't necessarily always have to be pretty, because when it's all said and done with, the only two letters that matter is a W or an L. That's all that matters."
5. He is excited about taking on a new challenge in Washington.
Bieniemy made it clear that he never shies away from a challenge. That is what he has in Washington, which is still striving to have the success of teams like the Chiefs.
That gets Bieniemy even more excited about his new role with the Commanders.
"I'm just looking forward to helping us to climb to the next level," Bieniemy said. "And one thing you guys are going to learn about me, I'm going to bring some energy, and we're going to have a lot of fun doing it."
The Commanders do not have unique talents like Patrick Mahomes or Travis Kelce, but Bieniemy is ready to create something new in Washington. He wants his unit to play hard, fast and with a purpose. He knows the word "potential" is a dangerous one to use, but he believes there is a lot of that to work with.
Bieniemy is going to start working now, and while there are several factors for him to figure out, there is one thing that will be clear: "We're gonna do whatever the hell it takes to win."
"I'm not concerned with numbers. I can care less what a runner rushes for. I can care less what a quarterback throws for. I can care less about what stats a receiver, or a tight end may have receiving. The only thing that matters is did we win, or did we lose?"