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Broncos add the pistol formation to their offense

Colin Kaepernick, Peyton Manning AP

The pistol formation, in which the quarterback lines up not under center but closer to the line of scrimmage than the shotgun, with a running back directly behind the quarterback, became popular in the NFL last year when mobile quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III ran it. But on Thursday night the Broncos used the pistol with a quarterback who is decidedly not mobile, Peyton Manning.

In the Broncos’ preseason opener, Manning lined up in the pistol with running back Ronnie Hillman behind him. That’s a look we didn’t see in Denver last year, but apparently the Broncos liked what they saw from other teams running the pistol and decided to try it themselves.

Although the pistol was perfected at Nevada when Kaepernick was playing there, it doesn’t have to feature a quarterback with Kaepernick’s mobility. A classic pocket passer like Manning can also run an offense out of the pistol. Former Nevada coach Chris Ault, the inventor of the pistol, said in January that any NFL team, even those with slow, pocket passers, could employ the pistol. A team with a slow quarterback wouldn’t employ read-option runs as part of the pistol attack, but that doesn’t mean the offense couldn’t run effectively out of the pistol.

“They could run the pistol formation,” Ault said. “They don’t need to run the read part of it. When we first put the pistol in, in 2005 and 2006, that’s all we ran — we ran the power, the gap, the counters, the zones, the outside stuff. We did not run the read at that time. So the pistol offense, the most important thing there is you can run any offense you’ve been running.”

The pistol doesn’t represent a radical change to the Broncos’ offense. Just a new look.

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46 Responses to “Broncos add the pistol formation to their offense”
  1. kd75 says: Aug 9, 2013 10:26 AM

    Not with Peyton Manning they aren’t…Because that guy runs slower than my cell phone on vibrate.

  2. floratiotime says: Aug 9, 2013 10:30 AM

    They don’t use a stopwatch to time Peyton’s 40 yard dash … they use a calendar. Going to be hard for him to sell that run fake. Just sayin’ … … …

  3. wearethechampsandyourenot says: Aug 9, 2013 10:31 AM

    this team is just preparing for the spanking they will receive week 1 from the #worldchamps

  4. heyguru1969 says: Aug 9, 2013 10:33 AM

    Peyton’s neck will preclude him from even remotely taking this to anything more than smokescreen level. If he runs at all, my prediction for the season is 26 carries for 18 yards. I know, I’m being overly-generous but he might break one for 10 against weak tackling.

  5. kleppnasty says: Aug 9, 2013 10:38 AM

    Gotta love how most of the comments are based on the title and not the actual article. Anyone who actually read the article would see that Pistol offense does not mean the QB runs, it’s just a formation.

  6. patriots420 says: Aug 9, 2013 10:39 AM

    A manning or Brady theoretically would run the pistol as such… ex. Blitzer commits, hold and pass to the open man for big gain…. Blitzer bails, hand the ball off and have the blitz man get his feet tangled up.

    Seems like that split second could really help a pocket passer, I don’t think the spy would be employed as much just because there would theoretically be only on running threat. A base D seems like it would be the logical call for such a formation with an immobile qb.

    The quick thinking, instant processing QB could use that as his legs to make the quick calls to bait defense’s and manipulate them in a new way. I like the idea.

  7. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Aug 9, 2013 10:40 AM

    The pistol is HERE TO STAY! Beautiful to see a formation come back and have an impact on the game like this. This is one of the reasons football is as popular as it is. The ever changing strategies! I bet Mike Martz would’ve loved to have the pistol idea. With all his 5 and 7 step drops.

  8. rex1979 says: Aug 9, 2013 10:40 AM

    If executed properly the Pistol is a great addition to an offense and forces DCs to to prepare for one more thing leading up to a game.

    Teams like the Skins and 49ers often line up in the Pistol but still run base traditional run plays out of the formation like a stretch and right/left power instead of the anticipated read-option. This then sets up playaction.

    It keeps the defense guessing and on its heels.

  9. turdfurgerson68 says: Aug 9, 2013 10:41 AM

    Can everyone please retire the phrase “just saying”???

    Its waaayy overused…and stupid too.

    Thanks!

  10. maiphatdong says: Aug 9, 2013 10:44 AM

    anyone who thinks they’ll actually run this during the regular season, is high on drugs

  11. hoops737 says: Aug 9, 2013 10:45 AM

    The Trend started by yours truly Nick Saban and the Tide!

  12. allidoiswin55 says: Aug 9, 2013 10:51 AM

    My exact point for months now, it’s used as another shotgun formation. Does not need to be a run or option play, but merely a play action type of look. The same principals that many ” read ” option qbs like Wilson (6% of total plays we’re read option, yet he is talked about as if he’s not it all game).

    It’s an wrinkle to an offense, yess it helps if the qb can run, but the most important thing is to have a smart qb who can process what’s in front of him.

    The read option is meant to keep defenses on their heal, and to allow the qb to pick the defenses poison. Either hand off zrun, pass, or simply just manipulate the pocket.

    This is why the read option is not at all a fad or even close. It’s a formation, and nothing like the wildcat which many uneducated people try to say, as long as their is a true threat to pass the read option can be tactfully used by ANY TEAM AND ALL STYLES OF Qb. Having a good running back make it that much more effective, bit again stop spreading ignorance, it’s no fad, either use it or stop it.

  13. baymac408 says: Aug 9, 2013 10:54 AM

    Read option formation is based off the qb and rb both being running options… With Paeyton Manning running that formation their is no dual threat… What reading the article have to do with that clown?

  14. shayeezy says: Aug 9, 2013 10:56 AM

    these comments are amazing, it would appears many of you didn’t even read the article. the pistol is a formation, and the read-option is just one type of play that can be run out of it with a run-capable QB. there are also a hundred other plays that involve zero QB running that can be executed out of the pistol.

  15. tennesseeoilers says: Aug 9, 2013 10:58 AM

    I actually think this will work well for Manning. But deep down, we all know what’s coming … While Manning spends the season exploiting his passing game out of the pistol, in week 13 or 14 with just seconds on the clock, down by 6, and inside the 10 yard line, he’s going to do it … He’s actually going to fake the handoff and instead of dropping back to pass, he’s going to bolt (with all of 8.1 forty speed) to the endzone untouched.

  16. vgferenzi says: Aug 9, 2013 10:59 AM

    hoops737 says:

    The Trend started by yours truly Nick Saban and the Tide!

    1. Yours truly means you, you are not Nick Saban

    2. Saban did not develop the Pistol, Michael Taylor did.

  17. deertay says: Aug 9, 2013 11:00 AM

    The pistol isn’t about running, it’s about not tipping your hand.

  18. dietrich43 says: Aug 9, 2013 11:01 AM

    I’ve heard that Burress wants the Steelers to use the pistol formation.

  19. vgferenzi says: Aug 9, 2013 11:03 AM

    baymac408 says:

    Read option formation is based off the qb and rb both being running options… With Paeyton Manning running that formation their is no dual threat… What reading the article have to do with that clown?

    Because read option is a play…not a formation. The pistol is a formation which is a cross between shotgun and single back. It allows the QB to have some space and make quick decisions without having to drop back, but keeps him closer to the line than shotgun so run/playaction/swing passes, etc.. are quicker to develop. It does NOT require the QB to run and while it is a good formation to run read option, it is not required to run read option.

    Clown.

  20. youarejealousof6rings says: Aug 9, 2013 11:21 AM

    The Patriots’ favorite formation.

  21. overweightman says: Aug 9, 2013 11:24 AM

    “turdfurgerson68 says:
    Aug 9, 2013 10:41 AM
    Can everyone please retire the phrase “just saying”???

    Its waaayy overused…and stupid too.

    Just Sayin!”

  22. schmitty2 says: Aug 9, 2013 11:27 AM

    turdfurgerson68 says:Aug 9, 2013 10:41 AM

    Can everyone please retire the phrase “just saying”???

    Its waaayy overused…and stupid too.

    Thanks!

    Amen! and while we’re at it how about a few more

    1.Haters
    2.LOL
    3.Flabbergasted
    4. Drew Brees wants an explanation

  23. 2ruefan says: Aug 9, 2013 11:33 AM

    schmitty2 says: Aug 9, 2013 11:27 AM
    turdfurgerson68 says:Aug 9, 2013 10:41 AM
    Can everyone please retire the phrase “just saying”???
    Its waaayy overused…and stupid too.
    Thanks!
    Amen! and while we’re at it how about a few more

    1.Haters
    2.LOL
    3.Flabbergasted
    4. Drew Brees wants an explanation
    ********************************************
    One MORE – “Nuff Said”… as if your statement is the final word.

  24. ilovemyringlessfranchise says: Aug 9, 2013 11:41 AM

    Gimmick

  25. dryzzt23 says: Aug 9, 2013 11:45 AM

    Pistol.
    In a state that is AGAINST guns….the Broncos employ the PISTOL formation. How soon until someone is “offended” and the NFL bans the “pistol” and “shotgun” formations forever.

  26. floratiotime says: Aug 9, 2013 12:00 PM

    “Thanks!
    Amen! and while we’re at it how about a few more”

    Oh you poor things … so easily offended.

  27. htown1035 says: Aug 9, 2013 12:07 PM

    Texans ran the pistol during training camp – so did a ton of other teams.

  28. mangycougar says: Aug 9, 2013 12:17 PM

    Didn’t the Packers and Favre use a version of this formation for a couple of years?

    Number 4 wasn’t very mobile and it seemed to work fine.

  29. sactogary says: Aug 9, 2013 12:22 PM

    dryzzt23 says: Aug 9, 2013 11:45 AM

    Pistol.
    In a state that is AGAINST guns….the Broncos employ the PISTOL formation. How soon until someone is “offended” and the NFL bans the “pistol” and “shotgun” formations forever.
    ——————————————————–
    Good point. Why are we glorifying violent weapons? Let’s go with the pansy and violet formations. /facetious

  30. guitarkevin says: Aug 9, 2013 12:24 PM

    I think it is safe to say we know where the weapon in the Aaron Hernandez case ended up?

  31. brutus9448 says: Aug 9, 2013 12:35 PM

    Manning’s arm looked weak yesterday and this is august. Comeback in the cold of december and it’ll be a lame duck.
    The broncos won’t win as much as they did last year. They’ll still win AFC west but will be one and done once again.

  32. touchdownroddywhite says: Aug 9, 2013 1:15 PM

    For all the jokes about Manning’s running abilities, or lack there of, which I love wholeheartedly, you have to admit the guy knows how to use that to his advantage to sucker a couple defenses a year into giving him 10-20 yards.

  33. stevejjones says: Aug 9, 2013 1:20 PM

    Good move by the Broncos. With a sturdy athletic mobile kid like Tim Tebow this will fit perfectly into the current trend of innovative offenses. What’s that you say? Broncos released Tebow and picked up a veteran on the tail end of his career? Well, I guess that could work, Peyton Manning is pretty good. Wait, it blew up in their face already? Sheesh. Ok…well…I guess they can take one more crack at it before they rebuild but I guess Elway isn’t getting GM of the Year anytime soon.

  34. jimnsota says: Aug 9, 2013 1:43 PM

    They actually renamed it to the Hernandez formation…Sorry, probably still to early for that.

  35. 1neangryblackman says: Aug 9, 2013 2:01 PM

    mangycougar says:
    Aug 9, 2013 12:17 PM
    Didn’t the Packers and Favre use a version of this formation for a couple of years?

    Number 4 wasn’t very mobile and it seemed to work fine.

    ———————————————
    No the Packers ran an inverted Wishbone where Farve had 3 backs behind him.

  36. thegreatgabbert says: Aug 9, 2013 2:09 PM

    You need an ink stained mud shark for that.

  37. spellingcops says: Aug 9, 2013 2:14 PM

    stevejjones says: Aug 9, 2013 1:20 PM

    Good move by the Broncos. With a sturdy athletic mobile kid like Tim Tebow this will fit perfectly into the current trend of innovative offenses. What’s that you say? Broncos released Tebow and picked up a veteran on the tail end of his career? Well, I guess that could work, Peyton Manning is pretty good. Wait, it blew up in their face already? Sheesh. Ok…well…I guess they can take one more crack at it before they rebuild but I guess Elway isn’t getting GM of the Year anytime soon.
    —————————————————
    If by “blowing up in their face” you mean going 13-3, winning AFC’s #1 seed, and missing the AFCCC (and most likely the SB) by one really bad defensive play, I agree. It sure did blow up in their face.

    Tool

  38. markob42 says: Aug 9, 2013 2:26 PM

    ANY formation is going to be better with a quarterback who’s also a threat to run. The pistol isn’t automatically a read-option formation.

    Here’s a couple reasons it’s great for a player like Manning: he can survey the defense better than being under center and his running back can pick up a blitz to either side of him without having to change presnap. Also lets them use a non-draw running play, again, without changing formation.

  39. thelastwordyaheard says: Aug 9, 2013 2:30 PM

    “Why bother learning to execute the pistol when you can be executing people with pistols?”

    -AH

  40. stevejjones says: Aug 9, 2013 2:55 PM

    So you’re saying the Broncos got it sort of done for one season. Yeah. So. I had a relative that died of cancer and sat up in bed and talked the last day in a final show of strength. Even the Broncos have a last gasp before the end comes. Might as well draft Johnny Unitas or have the Jets bring back Joe Namath. That’s what the Broncos did. Past ain’t present. Football is a young man’s game. Broncos fell short. Shorter than the previous year.

  41. tindeaux says: Aug 9, 2013 2:58 PM

    it’s comical to think the broncos is superbowl contender. they didn’t even get close to it last season. Tebow took them further than manning did. that’s a fact, baby!!!

  42. 69finfan says: Aug 9, 2013 3:14 PM

    Probably not much to this since it’s the Broncos. If it was the Patriots I would be really concerned!

  43. mangycougar says: Aug 9, 2013 3:34 PM

    1neangryblackman says:

    ———————————————
    No the Packers ran an inverted Wishbone where Farve had 3 backs behind him.

    Thank you answering that question. It has been bugging me for a couple of hours.

  44. youarejealousof6rings says: Aug 9, 2013 4:11 PM

    LOLOLOL

  45. foothillfrank says: Aug 9, 2013 4:24 PM

    It is amazing the Pistol didn’t get into the NFL earlier. For example, a few years ago when the 49ers were trying to reconcile the talents of quarterback Alex Smith, a spread option qb in college, and hard-running Frank Gore. If they ran shotgun, Gore was devalued. But in a pistol, Smith would get snap about five yards back, and Gore would be behind him, able to function similar as in regular pro formation. It is ironic that they were using that offense up in Reno those years with Kaepernick, who displaced Smith last year.

  46. hoops737 says: Aug 15, 2013 10:44 AM

    vgferenzi says:
    Aug 9, 2013 10:59 AM
    hoops737 says:

    The Trend started by yours truly Nick Saban and the Tide!

    1. Yours truly means you, you are not Nick Saban

    2. Saban did not develop the Pistol, Michael Taylor did.

    ——

    1. Maybe I am God himself

    2. I said “trend” as in “trend” of actually making it successful and inspiring others to use.

    sucka

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