Mike Munchak and The Pistol Offense

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

After Tuesday's practice, Mike Munchak talked a little bit about the pistol look the Titans showed.

(on what you look for out of a pistol from the offense)

Most people understand that it’s the running backs behind the quarterback. So, it doesn’t quite tipoff all exactly what runs you can do and the back’s offset. The offense has more options of what they could or can’t do. It’s something we’ve done in practice before and never really did much of it in games even with Vince we didn’t do much of that. I think it adds that to it. As far as that, the quarterback doesn’t have to run at all in that package. You could do all of your offense out of that package. That’s not necessarily going to be read option or anything but obviously you could do that. So, it just allows you to do more. It makes the defense have to prepare for more. It’s something that’s simple really to add and has its advantages. So, we’ll be doing a little of everything.

Given my interest in the Titans running the zone read, it should come as no surprise that this comment had me excited. It's not so much that they are just running the pistol in practice. The best part is the fact that Munch has a firm grip on the "why".

Pistol-offense_medium

via pistoloffenseplaybook.com

This is a fairly basic look out of "11" personnel. We showed this look quite a bit last year from under center. Let's start with the first thing Munch said:

Most people understand that it’s the running backs behind the quarterback. So, it doesn’t quite tipoff all exactly what runs you can do and the back’s offset. The offense has more options of what they could or can’t do.

Notice the placement of the back in the above diagram. He's directly behind the QB. This doesn't tip anything off. If you run from the shotgun, you're somewhat limited. For example, with the back lined up on the right side of the QB in the shotgun, there are only so many things you can do. You can still run inside zone and outside zone, but you can pretty much only run it to the left side. That is, you can't run those two runs to the right side because the RB can't get lateral as well. There are a variety of runs you can call to the backside (RB side) of the shotgun formation (counters, specifically), but you're limited.

Conversely, you can run every type of run play in the book to both sides out of the pistol. IZ/OZ (note: you can't run OZ read, only IZ read) can be run both ways, as can Power and any other variety of gap specific runs that you can call from under center.

As far as that, the quarterback doesn’t have to run at all in that package. You could do all of your offense out of that package. That’s not necessarily going to be read option or anything but obviously you could do that.

The point here is that there's very little you can't do out of the pistol. You can run the inside zone. Outside zone. Power. Etc. Yet, the ends always have to be cognizant of where the QB is since that immediate threat to the edge is so dangerous.

From one of Chris Brown's many excellent posts on the subject:

Grant_redskings_d1_576_medium

And, from another well written article on a Redskins blog:

Sf4_medium

Similar diagram from The Key Play:

Gbhi3_medium

The point here is that you can option people on the back side of the play (top image), or on the front side of the play (bottom two images). You can do that out of the shotgun, but the front side/back side are pre determined to the defense before the snap. Which isn't a huge deal, but the less information you give presnap the better.

So, it just allows you to do more. It makes the defense have to prepare for more. It’s something that’s simple really to add and has its advantages. So, we’ll be doing a little of everything.

While these "readers" will always pose a threat and be in the back of the defenses mind, you're still able to call every other run call in the playbook. The simplest way to describe the formation is all the advantages of the run game from under center, combined with benefits the shotgun provides in the passing game. In many ways, it's the best of both worlds. We'll have to wait and see the extent to which these formations get installed, but it's certainly encouraging to see this staff take a progressive approach to things.

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