Alex Smith was replaced by Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, but now he will get a chance to learn from the guy who unleashed Colin Kaepernick in the Pistol Offense at Nevada. The news was announced yesterday that the Kansas City Chiefs have hired Chris Ault as a consultant. Andy Reid has been a West Coast guy for a long time, but this is a pretty clear indication that you can expect some Pistol formation out of Kansas City in 2013.
Can Reid adapt his offense to blend the Pistol elements? Well, a year ago, we saw Mike Shanahan, also of the West Coast offense coaching tree, draft Robert Griffin III and install it with great success, while turning rookie running back Alfred Morris into a 1,600 yard rusher.
The question, of course, is whether Alex Smith is the quarterback for such an offense. San Francisco did not utilize it with him last year, turning to it more heavily once Kaepernick replaced him last year. Arrowhead Pride notes this quote (from Tom Rock of Newsday) from back in January, though, before Kansas City even traded for Smith, regarding a conversation with Chris Ault:
Chris Ault, father of the pistol offense, told me one QB who’d be really good at running it would be: Alex Smith!
Yes, the QB who was replaced by Colin Kaepernick. Ault said when he was at Nevada and Smith was at Utah, he thought he’d be perfect for what they were trying to develop. “An Alex Smith could run the read system also,” Ault said. “I remember him at Utah, he would have been an excellent pistol quarterback.”
Alex Smith is very heady, and he is mobile. We saw it two years ago in the playoffs when he scored against the Saints to win the game on a sweep. The knocks on Smith are arm strength on downfield throws, and a tendency to sometimes hold the ball in the pocket. As we saw last year with the Redskins, the read option threat out of the Pistol really opened up crossing routes behind the linebackers, the kind of throw that Smith can excel at against favorable coverages.
Even more important–because I’m not sure any quarterback is as dynamic as Kaepernick in the offense–is that Kansas City has the most dynamic running back for such a system. Jamaal Charles is unbelievable with a little bit of space. We saw that a healthy Robert Griffin III really opened up the running lanes for Morris. I think Charles will have a similar effect the other direction on the passing game on rollouts. He’ll be a year back from his knee injury, and the big play potential is just magnified. I am salivating at the big play potential of Charles in a Pistol offense. Teams have been able to focus on him with the rather vanilla and poor offenses. Charles running out of a spread option system should be gold in 2013.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]