Andy Reid, Alex Smith And The Pistol Offense

The Kansas City Chiefs were miserable on the offensive side of the football in 2012 but fans are hoping that new head coach, Andy Reid and new starting QB, Alex Smith, can turn things around in a hurry.

When Reid signed on to be the Chiefs’ head coach, most experts were predicting that he would bring his West Coast Offense and 4-3 defense to KC. While Reid will almost certainly run a version of the West Coast-style in 2013, he surprised some be deciding to keep the Chiefs in a base 3-4 defense. Reid noted that KC was built to run a 3-4 and that he would continue in that direction. Rather than force his system on a young Chiefs defense, Reid went out and hired former New York Jets defensive coordinator and assistant, Bob Sutton, to run the defense in Kansas City. The move showed Reid’s maturity and adaptability as a head coach.

Not long later, Reid hired former Minnesota Vikings head coach, Brad Childress, to be the Chiefs’ “spread game analyst.” He then inked former Nevada head coach and inventor of the pistol offense, as a team consultant. This led to speculation that the Chiefs would run the pistol offense in 2013.

Reid has gone on the record that the Chiefs will not run the spread or pistol exclusively but that they may use elements of those offensive styles.

The Chiefs weren’t very good last season but it appears they have at least an element of surprise on their hands as they approach 2013. How much or little of the pistol the Chiefs will use will likely remain a mystery until they finally take the field this September. Even then, I’d venture to guess that KC could vary their offensive scheme from game to game, utilizing the pistol when it makes sense and shelving it when it doesn’t.

Chris Burke of, recently published a terrific breakdown of the pistol and how Ault used it while at Nevada.

Many of the pistol’s pass plays, especially those including play-action, also can be run from under center. But the pistol changes the directions from which those fakes can occur, plus gives the QB some extra starting room between himself and the line.

Reid has never shied from play-actions. Last season, Philadelphia QBs Nick Foles and Michael Vick combined to throw 136 passes off play-action fakes. Only five quarterbacks around the league topped that number: Christian Ponder, Peyton Manning, Griffin, Cam Newton and Tom Brady.

It’s no secret, either, why Charles might like a Chiefs offense utilizing more of these calls. Charles has an abbreviated background with the pistol — the Chiefs ran it during his rookie season, 2008, after they were forced to turn to Tyler Thigpen at quarterback.

“[Running backs] want to run downhill,” Thigpen told SI during an interview last offseason. “If they’re beside you [in a shotgun], they have to run sideways. It was an opportunity for us to be able to put them in a better spot.”

Check out the rest of Burke’s article here. It is really well done and includes breakdowns of individual plays.

What do you think, Addicts? How much will the Chiefs use the pistol in 2013 and will they be successful behind Alex Smith?

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  • Jordan

    I would love to see what the chiefs could do with the pistol give Alex a little room to move while JC gets wild I know AR said there will be no pistol didn’t Mr.Charles slip up in an interview I believe with NFL32 on saying He was excited for the new offense with new formations and I believe he also mentioned the pistol can some correct me if I’m wrong

    • xxxlp

      “Reid has gone on the record that the Chiefs will not run the spread or pistol exclusively but that they may use elements of those offensive styles.”

      It’s not that we won’t run it, it’s that we won’t EXCLUSIVELY run it. There’ll for sure be pistol formations in our offense.

      • Jordan

        Got it thanks for clearing that up for me

  • 44WinMag

    If we’re gonna run the Pistol we’re better off with Tyler Thigpen than Smith. Smith is too fragile, he won’t survive half a season. Smith needs a 2 and 3 TE set with lots of short check downs and medium depth pass routes.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    I like the new wrinkles. For the first time in a while, our offense won’t be totally predictable.

    • Patrick Allen

      You aren’t a fan of the run, run, pass, punt Herm Edwards approach? Or the Haley play action, run, screen, punt combo?

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Negative Ghostrider.

      • Chris Tarrants

        I kinda liked Daboll and his style tho! Run, screen, punt oh wait what down is it ? Um run up the gut. Or the Cassel rendition, run, ok guys I want to sit back down because my lady parts are cramping so I’m going to throw a screen pass to the first defender I see open

  • chiefridgy

    I don’t care if you run the funky chicken if it puts points on the board and wins you games!

    • Patrick Allen

      Funky chicken it is!

  • kcpauly

    I like the idea of a little(or a lot) of Changes, I think Smith will handle it well as he ran this type of offense in college…Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kurt Rauch

    Is it possible that more downhill running will keep Charles on the field for more plays? With Daboll’s zone-blocking and cutting scheme, Charles excelled but often got winded (presumably from all the cutting he had to do). I would hate to see a planned move away from what Charles does well–unless of course the overall result is improved team success.