Chiefs’ Bieniemy interviews for Falcons’ head coaching job

Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy interviewed for the Falcons' vacant head coach job on Monday.
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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons accelerated their search for a new coach on the first day of their offseason by interviewing Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday that 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also is expected to interview with the Falcons.

Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris interviewed on Friday. Morris was 4-7, completing a 4-12 season after coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired following an 0-5 start.

The Falcons closed the season just as they started, with five consecutive losses. They set a season high for points allowed in Sunday’s 44-27 loss at Tampa Bay.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Monday he will not place limitations on what moves a new general manager and coach can make. He said that includes decisions on the team’s most accomplished leaders: quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones.

“You can’t hire the very best people you can hire, whether it be general managers or coaches, and then tie their hands,” Blank said.

Blank said the Falcons’ third consecutive losing season “doesn’t represent any aspect of our goals.”

“Most would say this is a roster much better than 4-12,” Blank said. “That doesn’t mean change is not necessary. It is necessary.”

“We want to win in 2021,” team president Rich McKay said when asked his timeframe for building a winner.

The Falcons announced they conducted a virtual interview on Monday with Bieniemy, who also is being pursued for openings with other teams. The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs led the NFL in total yards and yards passing and ranked second in scoring, making the former NFL running back an attractive target for teams seeking new leadership.

Morris said Sunday his interview “went well.”

“It was fair,” Morris said. “It was long. It was definitely appreciated.”

4-12 BUT ‘NOT FAR AWAY’

If Blank and McKay wanted to hear a candidate say a total rebuild is not needed, Morris likely delivered the right message. He told reporters following Sunday’s loss he believes the Falcons “are not far away.”

Asked what the Falcons need for a turnaround, Morris said “We have to find a way to be able to run the ball more consistently. We have to find a way to get after the quarterback with our four-man rush. If we can do some of those things, we are going to be the team to beat and we’re going to be a team to deal with moving forward.”

Blank made several references to the team’s talent and said some of the same players remain from the 2016 Super Bowl team.

Even so, Blank said “we can’t fool ourselves” and noted “it’s not that we were one or two games away from where we needed to be. We were a lot of games away from where we needed to be.”