PHILADELPHIA - Eric Bieniemy’s name has been near the top of most lists when it comes to potential NFL head coaching vacancies for several years, the presumed next branch of the now-legendary Andy Reid coaching tree.
For whatever reason it hasn't happened to date for Bieniemy with annual deep playoff runs in Kansas City complicating matters as well as some untoward accusations regarding the NFL's less-than-inspiring record of hiring minority coaching candidates.
After Doug Pederson was unceremoniously dumped as the Eagles head coach on Monday for the rare wanting-to-win sin, Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman are back in the coaching game for the first time since 2016 with the first call going to Oklahoma wunderkind and Roseman-favorite Lincoln Riley, the innovative flavor-of-the-month type that Lurie typically swoons over.
The top and likely only in-house candidate from Pederson's staff is assistant head coach Duce Staley, who has been a Lurie confidante through three regimes as a coach dating back to Reid in 2011.
Another favorite when you consider what Lurie had in Pederson circa 2016 before he became a Super Bowl-winning coach is another Reid acolyte in Mike Kafka, the Chiefs' quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator who spent time in the Eagles' organization as a backup QB and was targeted as an offensive coordinator target by Philadelphia last year.
As a first-time coach skipping steps so to speak Kafka would likely be on the board with orders from Lurie and Roseman when it comes to the coaching staff.
For what it's worth (and that's not much) Las Vegas instilled Biemiemy and Kafka as 4/1 co-favorites to be the next head coach with Riley, who makes $6.5 million a year with the Sooners at 11/2 behind two current offensive coordinators, Buffalo's Brian Daboll and Tennessee's Arthur Smith, per BetOnline.ag.
San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who got the first official interview request Tuesday, is a distant 25/1. That was quickly followed by two other reported requests for Smith (5/1) and Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who was once the Eagles secondary coach and then interim DC in 2012.
Lurie claimed he'd be open to a defensive coach like Saleh or Bowles on Monday but he also slipped and admitted his personal philosophy.
"I think you all know me – I put a heavy emphasis on wanting to have an elite offense, and I feel like defense has variables, variations throughout the year," he said. "But if you want to be a dominant team, you need to be a top offensive unit."
Around the league the scuttlebutt dating back months was that Bieniemy and Eagles personnel consultant John Dorsey, who forged a strong relationship when both were in Kansas City, wanted to spin a package head coach/GM deal, giving Lurie the obvious inside path to what would be considered a home run for the franchise from the fan base, something the Eagles' owner seems to value too much right up until in involves current GM Howie Roseman.
The path is simple in theory.
You kick Roseman back up to executive VP of Football Operations, give Dorsey the GM tag, albeit with less power than he had with the Chiefs and Cleveland Browns, and the skids are greased for Bieniemy.
That’s unlikely to happen, of course.
For one, the Eagles are behind the rest of the organizations looking for new head coaches due to Lurie's slow-bake when it came to deciding Pederson's future and Bieniemy has already interviewed with Atlanta, Detroit, Jacksonville, and the New York Jets. The Los Angeles Chargers also have requested to interview Bieniemy.
Saleh has interviewed for every team looking for a head coach minus Houston and was set for a second talk with Joe Douglas and the Jets Tuesday.
Dorsey, conversely, has not been interviewed for any GM jobs to date even in Carolina, which has cast a wide net and has interviewed 15 candidates at last count.
The thought around the Eagles is that Riley would be the home-run hire for Lurie, Staley the safety net rewarded for his loyalty, and Kafka as the wild card "joystick" coach that Pederson once was.
The political winds in the current environment of hiring Bieniemy would be desirable for most organizations. In Philadelphia, however, choosing Bieniemy over a loyal soldier like Staley is untenable.
Staley has already been passed over twice for the Eagles' OC job and would be being passed over a second time for the head-coaching position after interviewing in 2016. More so, he's already been endorsed by former players like Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long, as well as safety Rodney McLeod.
Lurie simply is not deft enough to navigate those waters so he will likely try to avoid them.
“We are very open and it’s top of mind to make sure we have some of the best minority candidates in on the search,” Lurie said. “It’s very important, I think, for us, for the league and it's top of mind."
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out anything you may have missed pertaining to the Eagles by going to www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.