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Ravens Debut Pistol Formation

Posted Nov 5, 2013

Baltimore used the pistol five times Sunday, and will use it more going forward.


One of the subtle offensive changes the Ravens made out of the bye was the debut of the pistol formation Sunday in Cleveland.

But just because Joe Flacco led the Ravens in rushing, don’t think Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III when you hear “pistol.”

Baltimore’s version – at this point and likely into the foreseeable future – is to help the struggling run attack, not get Flacco scrambling more.

Baltimore used the formation five times. They ran it all five times with running back Ray Rice for a collective five yards.

The Ravens had success with it early on, as they used it on their second offensive play of the game for a gain of five yards behind left guard A.Q. Shipley. They used it again on the second drive for a pickup of four yards.

It got blown up for losses of three and two yards on the next two times in the formation, and finished with a 1-yard gain. The Ravens used the pistol twice on their final drive of the fourth quarter.

“I thought it went pretty well,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “We ran some of our zone schemes out of that. There’s going to be more of that. Obviously there’s a lot of offense you can run out of that formation. It’s something that we’ll try to build on and give defenses something else to defend.”

The pistol formation, in a nutshell, means the quarterback is lined up in the shotgun and the running back is behind him instead of to the side. Flacco would be is five yards back from center and Rice lined up three yards behind Flacco.

The change allows more time for the blocks to set up in front of the running backs, and changes their angles. Starting eight yards back from the line of scrimmage also allows the backs to get up to speed more by the time they hit the line.

Averaging a league-low 2.8 yards per carry, Baltimore is mixing things up. The Ravens could also do other creative things out of the formation going forward, so as to not be predictable.

“I think [the running backs] liked it,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not so much about the head start, but the angles are a little bit different on some of the plays, so that gives them a chance to get a little more in sync with the offensive live.

“You watch the teams that do that all the time, they run the same basic plays out of the pistol that you run with the quarterback out of center, so it gives you the opportunity to do that.”

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