Andy Reid and the Pistol


May 14, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid walks on the field during organized team activities at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 offseason has been a season of change for the Kansas City Chiefs, both in the front office and on the field. While the amount of change the Chiefs have gone through should leave fans with a lot of question marks for what they are going to see on the field next season, new head coach Andy Reid has a long track record and comes to the team with certain fan expectations. These expectations include: up-tempo; pass to set up the run; west-coast offense; etc. But despite how long these keywords were (in)famous in Philadelphia when describing the Eagles under Reid’s stead, I think it would be unwise for Chiefs fans to expect exactly the same thing.

While I think the philosophies should remain, the actions of the Chiefs during the offseason along with the personnel inherited by Reid has made it clear that Reid might be shaking things up. As Chris Burke with Sports Illustrated wrote: “While Reid has had too much success over an extended period of time in the NFL to scrap his strategies completely, those hires [of Brad Childress as a “spread game analyst” and Chris Ault] send a message that he’s ready to pull out all the stops on this offense. “

Let’s start with personnel. In Philadelphia, Reid had speed receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. While the Chiefs have speed in free agent acquisitions Marty Gilyard and Donnie Avery, the projected one and two receivers are Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin, both very big and both much different than their smaller but faster Philly counterparts. Just based off the receiving position, one must deduce that Reid’s schemes must change.

Then you have the addition of Chris Ault, the father of the Pistol Offense, to the Chiefs coaching staff. And this isn’t just for show or to just figure out how to stop the Pistol; Chiefs players, particularly running back Jamaal Charles, have been talking about the Chiefs using the Pistol formation in their practices and the benefits it presents to the offense. “I ain’t never been around no offense that’s about to be explosive and about to put me in space and making me make plays. I see Frank Gore had success with (the pistol) with the (San Francisco) 49ers. If he can have success, I hope I can have success as well.”

While the Pistol Offense, or at least special packages used intermittingly throughout a game, might just be the flavor of the month (much like the wildcat offense that Miami ran successfully in 2008), until defensive coordinators learn to shut it down properly, teams might as well use it. And the benefits should be passed straight down to Charles.

During the 49ers run with Kaepernick last season following Alex Smith’s injury/benching, Frank Gore averaged 18.4 carries per game, which was up from 14.9 when Smith was the starting QB. While this might have something to do with trying to protect a young QB in Kaepernick, Gore’s carries actually increased to 20, 23, 21 and 19 over the final four games, which includes all three postseason games and the last game of the regular season. In the postseason, Gore averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Considering that Gore’s career average yards per carry is 4.6, think about the kind of damage Charles can do in a similar offense when he’s never averaged less than 5.3 yards per carry in a season.

And while the Chiefs offense might not operate quite like the 49ers, even with the addition of the Pistol formations, it will be quite different from last season. As Burke from SI adds, “No matter how the Chiefs opt to line up Smith and their other skill-position pieces on the field, the plan will be to get Charles running north and south. That’s a sea change from the zone-blocking scheme implemented by former coordinator Brian Daboll last season — that scheme relies more on sideline-to-sideline, one-cut work from its back.”

No matter how you slice it, the Chiefs are going to get a different offense than fans have seen before and I believe Andy Reid’s scheme is going to be quite different than what Eagles fans got used to over the years. Which isn’t a bad thing.