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Pistol offense could have staying power in the NFL

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Robert Griffin III

NEW ORLEANS — The pistol offense has exploded this season thanks to Washington Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III and the Niners’ Colin Kaepernick, among others. But the question that has surfaced is, does the offense have staying power, or will it be a passing fad.

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh for one believes a lot of the success of the formation is predicated on the personnel utilized.

“It’s possible that it is here to stay; don’t make any predictions on that,” he said on a rainy Wednesday in New Orleans. “I think that it’s been successful for us because of the players that we have executing it.”

The pistol, which has the QB situated 4 yards behind center and the running back 3 yards directly in back of the QB, combines elements of a traditional downhill running scheme with the read-option, putting the defense in a bind as far as what to key on.

It also helps to have a special QB, such as Kaepernick, calling the shots.

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“A guy that can throw it with such accuracy, run and have the mind he has — it is a dangerous weapon,” Niners offensive coordinator Greg Roman said.

San Francisco has dramatically increased its usage of the formation in the playoffs after using in sparingly during the regular season.

As for defending it, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees says the basic principles remain the same.

“It starts up front trying to stop the run and make sure you have all the aspects of the option of zone read down,” he said. “So it starts up front.”


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