Buzz: Jets practicing the Pistol at camp?

genoPat Kirwan wrote for CBS Sports that he noticed some wrinkles in the Jets offense when he was out in Cortland on Monday, he made a number of observations and here’s one we were particularly interested in:

QB coach David Lee is blending in some wildcat/pistol packages into the offense. It could be Jeremy [Kerley] at QB.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

As we speak, the Jets might not be the only ones getting in on the movement.  The Pistol is getting unveiled around the league in some of the most unlikely of places, just witness the news from Titansland, who showed some sets today in their training camp.

It should come as no surprise if the Jets practice odd packages like the Wildcat or Pistol. Rex Ryan said today in his presser that the concept of the Wildcat is “here to stay” because “it does give [the offense] the numbers back.”  By that, Rex means that eliminating the quarterback from the tackle box (setting him up in the slot, or as a flanker) allows an offensive front to match up evenly on a play instead of a man down.

Rex went on to say that “you’re seeing different guys [run the plays] … it doesn’t have to be the quarterback, but the fact that it is the quarterback, I think sometimes is even better than having a running back guy [run the plays].”

Then, by Rex’s own definition quoted (about the numbers) above, that’s not the Wildcat at all.  This non-Wildcat, but certainly different looking offense was seen on the field on Monday when Jets quarterbacks took snaps from four yards behind the center during practice and Ryan was sliding that little nugget in during his answer on the Wildcat question.

As Kirwan’s note above indicates, the Jets are installing the Pistol, in addition to the Wildcat, but some might not be quick to tell the difference.

The essence of the Pistol is lining up the quarterback four yards behind the center, but that’s about where the similarities between the Wildcat and Pistol end.  “It’s nothing like the Wildcat,” Trent Dilfer told the Reno Gazette Journal last week.  “In fact, I’m starting to get offended by people comparing it to the Wildcat. It shows a lack of understanding of football. The Wildcat is a gimmicky run offense. The Pistol is the benefit of a shotgun offense, a downhill, I-back formation, you can get wishbone elements in it. There’s a lot of misdirection, and it gives the quarterback space to do a lot of things.”    If you are unfamiliar with the Pistol, here’s two great articles (NFPSBN) about the offense.  Dilfer called it  “the best offense we’ve seen in years, especially when you can combine West Coast passing principles with it.”

How convenient that the Jets have an offensive coordinator who has some of the deepest understanding of the West Coast in the NFL today!

At four yards back, the quarterback gets more time to react to the defense after the snap, while also getting a closer pre-snap look than the traditional seven yard shotgun.  From that anchor point, the traditional Pistol I-set can be used, as well as wishbone sets, shotgun sets, pro sets … etc.  It’s a jumping off point but any Pistolier still needs to be an excellent passer, which would eliminate a certain quarterback the Jets had on the roster last year who the Jets refused to let throw the football enough to make him an effective runner.

A shorter shotgun snap to quarterbacks would be a new element for the Jets offense, but would be for Mornhinweg’s Eagles offenses as well.  Rex Ryan said back in January that he wanted to add the Pistol to his offense, and while Marty Mornhinweg hasn’t used the formation, it’s an excellent dovetail to to his skillset, even more interesting with a read-option versatile spread offense quarterback on the roster.

Rather than pick up the signals, the line of questioning during the presser forged deeper into Wildcatistan, which we all know shares a border with the Republic of Tebow.  (Yes, really)

Even so, Ryan again left a smoking gun with his answer when asked why the Jets didn’t just keep Tebow (one of the worst throwing quarterbacks in the league) to install this new offense:

“If [the Wildcat] is the only thing you do with that position, why don’t you just leave a running back in there, because he’s a guy that’s trained to do it. If you’re going to have a quarterback that has those skills (to run a specialty offense), like a Kaepernick or somebody like that, then it obviously becomes more of a weapon.”

A weapon like the Pistol?