Jamaal Charles discusses Eric Bieniemy coaching search, Doug Pederson firing, Andy Reid and more

Jamaal Charles has played for a number of coaches from his days with the Kansas City Chiefs — many of which have risen to prominence in the NFL. Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy were the offensive coordinators in Kansas City under Andy Reid when Charles played for the Chiefs, while Eric Bieniemy was the running backs coach for a number of years. To say Charles is familiar with the NFL coaches available for jobs this offseason would be an understatement. 

Charles was one of the most electric running backs during his NFL career, rushing for 7,564 yards and 44 touchdowns during his 11 seasons in the NFL — leading the league in yards per carry (2009) and scrimmage touchdowns once (2013). A two-time First Team All-Pro selection, Charles is fifth all-time in yards per carry in NFL history (5.4) and is Kansas City’s all-time rushing leader. 

In a one-on-one interview with CBSSports.com, Charles discussed the Philadelphia Eagles‘ firing of Pederson and the immense qualifications of Bieniemy as he still searches for a head coaching job. 

Doug Pederson was your offensive coordinator for several seasons in Kansas City. What did you think of his firing by the Eagles?

Charles: “I mean, it’s pretty simple. If you don’t have that fire in you to try to win — no matter what, it’s going to hurt you. Being iffy on his quarterback situation too, the whole thing was kind of strange to me going from Wentz to Hurts. You put all this money in Carson Wentz and he’s not your quarterback anymore? The guy was almost MVP before he got hurt. I feel like he (Pederson) gave up on Wentz. Why can’t you turn him around and get him on that MVP pace again? It’s just kind of weird to give up on a guy and don’t try to support him — then just move on to the next guy.” 

Do you think Doug will land another head coaching job?

Charles: “I think he will. Having a Super Bowl championship on your belt, he’ll be able to get a job somewhere. The guy knows how to win, he knows how to create plays. I don’t think he’s washed up. He just got caught up with the organization focusing on not trying to win games and personnel with the quarterback situation.”

Eric Bieniemy is long overdue for a head coaching job. I have been one of his biggest advocates for him to be a head coach over the last several years. What do you think will make him a very good head coach in this league? 

Charles: “Every guy Eric Bieniemy touches, he raises their game — whoever they are. Pat (Mahomes) would be Pat, but I don’t think he’d be (as good as he is) without Coach Bieniemy teaching him the details about blitz (packages). He’s a very smart, intelligent man that gets in his players’ heads and brings out the best in them. 

“Wherever he goes, he’s going to bring out the best in all his players. He’s going to push them to a level they didn’t even know they had. He’s a great coach that coaches the details. He deserves a (head coaching) job in this industry and in an organization somewhere. He’s one of the best coaches, so why he can’t get a coaching job like Doug Pederson and Coach (Chicago Bears head coach Matt) Nagy is beyond me. I just think if he was a different color he would have definitely got a job by now.” 

Where do you think would be the best fit for Eric Bieniemy? 

Charles: “I like him with Deshaun Watson. He can bring out the best in Watson and the Houston Texans organization. Anywhere with a young quarterback — I think he’s better coaching young guys. He can coach older guys too, but with the younger guys he can get a hand on them and change their career.”

Do you think the Eagles would be a good destination for him?

Charles: “I don’t think so, but he played there so he might have a good feel for how to turn things around there. Anywhere he goes, he’s going to do good. He can definitely help Wentz out a lot — teaching him his reads and not turn the ball over and make the right decisions. He’s going to detail everybody on that team and many people don’t have that next level of detail he has. 

Having Andy Reid as your head coach for a number of years, what was his biggest strength that gave Kansas City an edge every single week?

Charles: “He told you to believe in yourself and gave you the confidence in yourself. Many coaches these days they don’t let you be yourself. For Coach Reid, he’s more relaxed and just lets you lay back — he don’t really care how you approach the game, how you dress, what you have on. He wants you to be you, show your personality. When I first met him I was like ‘Did he really say that?’ 

“Most of the coaches I played for didn’t let me be me. They want you to be somebody you’re not and that’s why Coach Reid has a good culture. You can have a Terrell Owens on your team, you can have a different personality where he can let you be you and you can still play at a high level. 

“That’s what you want as a person. You want to be yourself going into the games and not worry about how a coach wants you to look or what coach is going to say.” 

Patrick Mahomes and I talked prior to the season about improvements he needed to make. What improvements did you see in his game this year? 

Charles: “It’s so hard to criticize the way Pat plays. He plays at such a high level every time he touches the ball. As long as he’s playing at the high level he’s on, the Chiefs are going to contend for a championship.”

What team do you feel is the Chiefs biggest road block to the Super Bowl? 

Charles: “The Chiefs. They can’t beat themselves. They just gotta do what they do every week by containing people on defense. The defense does as much as they can to allow the offense to get on the ball. The more chances the offense has, the more opportunities they have to put points on the board. It’s going to be hard for other teams to put points up if the Chiefs offense is on the field. The defense has to stop people and the offense has to score.”

*Jamaal Charles was made available by Crown Royal and the Water Break Campaign, allowing consumers to drink responsibly and hydrate during games with water.  

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