Commanders offensive coach Eric Bieniemy sees results from tough coaching

Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Washington Commanders players first struggled to adapt to Eric Bieniemy's admittedly 'tough' coaching style, but the offensive coordinator said he already sees results trying to take the offense to a new level.

Bieniemy gave the assessment at a news conference Tuesday after head coach Ron Rivera told reporters that some players confronted him about the offensive coordinator's aggressive and often loud coaching style.


"We all gotta get uncomfortable to get comfortable," Bieniemy said. "There are some new demands and expectations that I expect. I expect us to be the team we are supposed to be.

"It's not going to be easy and everybody isn't going to like the process. ... Do they understand that? Yes, because they are seeing the results."

The Commanders hired Bieniemy in February after he finished 10 years with the Kansas City Chiefs. The former running backs coach and offensive coordinator was widely respected for his coaching ability, but passed over for multiple head coaching roles in recent years.


"I had a number of guys come to me, and I said, 'Hey, just go talk to him,'" Rivera said about player concerns about Bieniemy. "'Understand what he's trying to get across to you.'"

Rivera characterized conversations between Bieniemy and Commanders players as "enlightening." He also said Bieniemy's approach is not going to change.

"I mean, it's a whole different approach," Rivera said. "Again, you're getting a different kind of player from the players back in the past, especially in light of how things are coming out of college football. So a lot of these young guys, they do struggle with certain things."

Bieniemy, 53, said he attempts to address his style -- which he called "tough" and "hard-nosed" -- with players before issues occur.

"Before it even goes anywhere, I make it a point to address the conversation," Bieniemy said. "My job is to be very observant. I gotta know the people I'm discussing and working with. My job is to address it.

"If there's something they may have an issue with, please let's discuss this. ... I put it back on the player. You gotta understand, we are in a grown-man's business. We are in a grown-man's world.


"My job is to make sure I'm doing the best possible job of over-communicating clearly. I take a tremendous amount of pride in that.

"When I'm getting on them, it's not personal. What's personal is, I want us to win. I expect that particular player to be great at all times. I expect that effort to be a standard that's accepted by all of us. If they don't reach it, my job is to address it."

Rivera noted that defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who had been a head coach, tries to understand player personalities more than the new offensive coordinator.

"Eric has an approach, and it's the way he does things, and it's not going to change because he believes it," Rivera said. "Jack has his approach. Having been a head coach, I think Jack has a tendency to try to figure guys out a little bit more as opposed to, 'Hey, this is it, this is the way it's going to be,' that type of stuff.

"Eric hasn't had that experience yet."

Commanders offensive lineman Andrew Wylie was among several players who defended Bieniemy after Rivera spoke about his coaching style. Wylie, who played under Bieniemy during the last five years while with the Chiefs, called him "very intense."


"It might be new to some people, but that's what this offense demands," Wylie told reporters. "That's what E.B. demands. ... He's a very intense individual."

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who also played under Bieniemy while with the Chiefs, defended the coach on Twitter.

"Man, there is no other coach that has your back like E.B.," Hill wrote. "Take that coaching and get better. We've all been through [it]. It's tough, but I promise you it will make you better."

Bieniemy is attempting to turn around a Commanders offense that scored the ninth-fewest points in the NFL last season.

Led by Bieniemy, coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs has a Top-6 scoring offense every year since 2016. The Commanders had a Top-10 scoring offense just twice over the last 23 years.

The Commanders will face the Cleveland Browns in their first preseason game at 7:30 p.m. EDT Friday in Cleveland.

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