SNIDER: Eric Bieniemy quickly impacts Commanders


It took two snaps for offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s presence to be felt.

“It’s an opportunity to get better,” he screamed as the offense readied to snap.

Get ready for the Bieniemy Show as the Washington Commanders new offense pulls together a young quarterback, several line changes, a new top tight end, and a whole lot of motion. Wednesday was reminiscent of predecessor Norv Turner’s 1994 first camp when intensifying practices after coming from two-time champion Dallas.

No messing around is the basic theme. Faster, crisper, harder – “Get upfield,” Bieniemy often chided players.

Washington coach Ron Rivera watched from the side, as he often has over three seasons. Bieniemy was clearly in charge of the offense as the team’s greatest offseason addition after winning the Super Bowl with Kansas City.

Players said Bieniemy is the same in the hallways and classroom – a speedball of energy demanding the 8-8-1 team that averaged 18 points last season get better, or else nobody is around for the 2024 OTAs.

“EB is a high energy, high-impact guy,” Rivera said. “He doesn't hold in. He doesn't pull any punches. He's very direct with the players, which has been good. One of the things that we talked about was just changing the way we do things. As I told you guys, I gave him the opportunity to script a lot of things that we're doing. He is handling all the scheduling. I basically just laid the format out and gave it to him and, and he's put it all together, so that's why things are different.”

Different as in a late-morning start to the near two-hour session that in previous years under Rivera started 90 minutes earlier. Bieniemy likes to teach first, then practice, so the team flipped its long-standing format.

Practices have long been competitive under Rivera, with the defense celebrating big plays. When safety Percy Butler intercepted a Sam Howell goal-line pass, he was swarmed by teammates. Rivera said competition between the two units will be intense.

“I'm worried about the defensive side,” he said. “I mean, those guys are gonna be as competitive as it gets and we've gotta manage and maintain.”

The defense was minus ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat for the second straight day. Both are in the final years of their contract, but won’t join the voluntary workouts. Offensive tackle Charles Leno was also absent.

No matter, Bieniemy is escalating the offense. Washington’s defense is good enough to contend this season, but the offense has to sharpen. Howell threw plenty of frozen ropes and short-range bullets to waiting tight end Cole Turner, who looked to be a breakout playmaker as a rookie before twice injured last season. Losing Armani Rogers to an Achilles injury on Tuesday increases Turner’s role as Howell’s short-range playmaker, especially when making 180-degree catches like in practice.

“Get upfield,” Bieniemy chants.

The end zone beckons.

Follow Rick Snider on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks

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