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Film Session: How OC Eric Bieniemy will create mismatches with Commanders weapons

Looking into how the Chiefs' pre-snap motions created mismatches and their creative screen game under former OC Eric Bieniemy

NFL: Washington Commanders Rookie Minicamp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is coming into an environment where his Washington offense has plenty of untapped potential within some of his top playmakers. The turnover that the Kansas City Chiefs saw at the receiver position last offseason didn't alter their run-pass ratio, but it provided Bieniemy and head coach Andy Reid a challenge in creating different mismatches. The Chiefs' screen game and use of pre-snap motion under Reid have been critical factors in getting his offense the best looks or matchups possible post-snap. In 2021, Chiefs' tight end Travis Kelce and receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman accounted for most of their overall motion usage rate. In 2022 while the Chiefs overall motion usage rate decreased, they still used pre-snap motion at a good rate. Furthermore, the Chiefs were less top-heavy in their motion rate, which created favorable matchups with any receiver or running back that is on the field.

Let’s start with how Bieniemy dressed up the screen game on 3rd downs.

One of the ways that Bieniemy takes advantage of aggressive defenses is how he counters them by simulating max protections in his screen game. So whether it be against simulated pressure, like what the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers attempted, or a true blitz like the Broncos, the Chiefs were in a position where they could quickly get the ball out of their quarterback and into a playmakers hand with blockers to guide them downfield.

Another aspect of how Bieniemy creates favorable advantages for his offense is through effective pick plays. An example is shown in the last play of the video above, where the Chiefs faced a 3rd and 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In this instance, the Chiefs employed a 12-personnel formation and sent Travis Kelce in pre-snap motion to show the offense what coverage Jacksonville was in before the snap. The pre-snap movement showed that the Jaguars were in man coverage, creating a natural pick-play opportunity for the Chiefs post-snap. Because running back Jerrick McKinnon was aligned to the right of Pat Mahomes and crossed the formation post-snap, it created traffic for the defender responsible for covering him.

Next, we’ll look at how Bieniemy used receiver Kadarius Toney on pre-snap motions and motion at the snap.

The Chiefs had a way of dressing up some of the same plays through its personnel packages. Toney was featured in 11, 12, and 13 personnel, allowing the Chiefs to utilize his athleticism and playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. Or they used him as eye candy to create opportunities for other players. As shown in the video above, their creative use of motion was also effective in the red zone, where Washington ranked 25th last season.

For Washington, there needed to be more purposeful motion under Scott Turner. Beiniemy’s scheme allowed shifts and motions for any eligible player on the field. While TE Travis Kelce was the ultimate move piece for the Chiefs, nearly every skilled player moved around the offense where favorable matchups existed. For Washington, it will not just be Curtis Samuel being moved around the offense anymore. While Terry McLaurin saw just a handful of motions in 2022, we can expect to see much more for McLaurin this season. Tight ends Logan Thomas and Cole Turner, if they can remain healthy, can collectively provide the motion rate that Kelce provided Bieniemy with the Chiefs. In all, Commanders have untapped firepower, and the movement along the offensive formations will be a great addition to this unit.

Curtis Samuel will continue to see a reasonable rate of motion under Bieniemy, but how he is utilized post-snap will be interesting to watch. Additionally, if UDFA Kazmeir Allen makes the team and shows he can provide playmaking ability to this offense, expect him to see some looks similar to Kadarius Toney and Samuel.

Antonio Gibson has arguably been the most underutilized under Turner. While he has been productive in the NFL, he has a good chance under Bieniemy to establish himself as a legitimate threat in an offense this season.