A couple of days ago the Kansas City Chiefs hired former Nevada coach Chris Ault to work with Andy Reid, and presumably try to install the pistol offense in Kansas City next year. On a post on a another blog I stated that I wasn’t so sure the Pistol was going to work in Kansas City just because the coach was hired that installed it at the University of Nevada, and I was more or less mocked because I made a sarcastic statement about the Pistol and its success in the NFL last year. Yes, the 49’ers and Colin Kaepernick went to the Super Bowl last year running the Pistol, and teams like Washington, Seattle and Carolina also had varying degrees of success at times last year running the Pistol. There are several differences between those teams and the Chiefs, which is why I am skeptical at best at the success the Chiefs will have running the Pistol this year.
Let’s start with the quarterbacks. There is probably a good reason Colin Kaepernick had success running the Pistol last year in San Francisco, that reason would be his coach while he was in school was none other than Chris Ault. Obviously Kaepernick has a firm grasp of the offense when he was installed at quarterback following Alex Smith’s injury. Similarly in Washington, RGIII, besides being a stud breakout quarterback, ran a zone-blocking scheme under one of the best coaches for it (Mike Shannahan) and ran a similar style while in college at Baylor. The same can be said for Cam Newton and the offense he ran at Auburn, while it wasn’t the Pistol, it was a similar zone read type offense. It’s been pointed out that Ault once said he thought Alex Smith would be a good candidate for running the Pistol, he also based that comment on his time at Utah, which was nearly ten years ago. Yes, Alex Smith could be considered a mobile quarterback, he is by no means Peyton Manning or Tom Brady as far as mobility, but most of his runs seem to happen after breakdowns where he is forced to scramble, which he is very good at.
To say that Kansas City’s passing game last year was awful would be doing it a disservice. It was two month old spoiled milk terrible. Even with having a stud running back in Jamaal Charles, who you would think would be able to at least distract the defense a bit, the Kansas City quarterback duo of Matt Cassell and Brady Quinn threw for a combined 2,900 yards, 8 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. While the quarterback situation in Kansas City was terrible, the wide receiver options weren’t a whole lot better. Dwayne Bowe is a decent wide out, but he is not a #1 type guy. One of the things that made Kaepernick so successful was having options like Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis to throw to, not to mention Frank Gore coming out of the back field. Kaepernick had the luxury of having decent receivers that would catch the ball, the Chiefs do not. From what I can tell the Chiefs didn’t do a whole lot to help out the receiving and tight end positions going into next season, which would lead one to believe the same problems will exist in the passing game.
One thing that the Chiefs do have is great running game. Jamaal Charles proved last year, even after coming back from a serious knee injury, that he was more than able to carry the load in the back field for the Chiefs. Along with Charles, the offensive line for the Chiefs isn’t terrible. They were hit with injuries at some key spots last year which forced some younger guys into action probably a little earlier than they had hoped, but the added experience should help. The concern that I could possibly see from the Chiefs OL is the new coaching staff, and presumably new blocking scheme will take a while to implement, which in turn could affect both the passing and running game effectiveness, especially early on.
The NFL is a strange game, and odder things have happened than a new coach coming in with a new offensive scheme and a new coaching staff to a team that has shown limited offensive success in recent years. Stranger things have happened before, and they do happen almost yearly. In recent years, Chiefs fans have had very little to be excited about, and bringing in Andy Reid, Alex Smith and hopefully a new outlook for the entire organization is at least something for fans to be excited about. I remain skeptical that bringing in a coach that ran an offense with great success at Nevada will turn the Chiefs into contenders in the AFC, the Chiefs have nowhere to go but up at this point, and the change in philosophy may be exactly what the organization needs to return Camerohead to all its glory.