The pistol is a relatively new scheme. Washington's version bears resemblence to the offense Colin Kaepernick ran at the University of Nevada under coach Chris Ault, who dreamt up the pistol in 2004. One of Ault's motivations was to dial up a power run game out of a spread formation, and we've seen the Redskins succeed on that front.
The option offense is dismissed by many in NFL circles as a passing fancy, but when your quarterback excels at protecting the ball (and RG3 has thrown just four interceptions all season) the pistol becomes a dangerous scheme that forces defenses to play mistake-free football -- or pay the price.
Run, Alfred, run
Washington likes to bang opponents with rapid-fire run plays, and Morris fits like a glove in this scheme. This 19-yard gain shows a Giants defense on its heels. Why? Because its attention is divided all over the field. Will Morris get the ball? Will RG3 shift into play-action? Will Griffin simply take off with it?
In order for the pistol to work, defenses must respect the run. Morris commands attention, leaving opponents vulnerable against the pass.
Griffin has been nearly unstoppable in the play-action passing game. The Post scored him as 9 of 11 throwing out of play-action against the Giants but just 4 of 10 on pure dropback throws. That speaks to the pistol's strength of deception.
"The reason this offense is so difficult to defend is because of the variation," NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah told me Wednesday. "Linebackers are used to simply getting a run/pass read and reacting accordingly. That isn't the case against RG3 and this offense. There are run/pass/option and zone read plays that effectively paralyze linebackers. On this touchdown, there was so much action to worry about on the front side that the linebackers don't see the wide receiver crossing from the backside. Griffin basically functions as Mr. Freeze!"
Griffin masterfully sells the fake handoff. On this play, respect for Morris draws defenders into the center of the field. Jason Pierre Paul wants this play back, because his job is to contain the outside, and he blows the assignment entirely.
They won't be the last team to feel that way until defenses figure out how to react more quickly to the Redskins' pistol offense.