Don't Bring A Knife to a Pistol Fight

The Pistol Formation is now gaining legitimacy in the football world because of its effective use in the NFL. We all have Chris Ault and Nevada to thank for its origination and design.  For me the Pistol is more about the alignment of the Running Back than it is about the offensive scheme itself.  Shotgun teams now have a way to align the Running Back in a traditional "I" alignment giving him a more downhill, vertical entry into the line of scrimmage. I think it gives the Running Back better vision to make cuts, and it is easier to make those cuts while attacking downhill and relatively square to the line of scrimmage.  I never really liked the Running Backs entry in the Shotgun Zone Read because it always felt to lateral or east and west to me. What I would like to do today is show you how we combine Zone theories with Veer theories to give us our "ZEER READ" play.
Double or Triple Option

I am going to discuss our 1 back Zeer Read with Key Screens for Triple Option and our 2 Back Zeer Read Bluff for Double Option. The fact that we can incorporate this theory in 1 Back and 2 Back is very important for me.  We want to be multiple yet simple on Offense while playing extremely fast. The Zeer theory allows us to run the scheme from virtually any formation which helps us avoid tendencies.

In the above diagram we are running Zeer to the right with a Bubble Screen by #2 to create a Triple Option principle. The oline will block gap down veer rules and we would like to get 2 double teams if possible.  The QB will ride and decide off the right C gap defender. If he gets a pull read he will then option the force player with the ability to keep or throw a bubble screen to #2.  I feel the bubble screen does a better job stretching the force player and not allowing him to slow play the QB. The TB will enter straight downhill on the playside leg of the center. His choices are Bang it or Bounce it. He will not have the option of cutback since this is a down block scheme and not a zone scheme.

The next diagram is the same theory out of a 3x1 formation. I like running this vs defenses that choose to play the backside safety as a #3 vertical player. Now we can block the corner and high safety while throwing the key screen off of the force player.

The last diagram is the Zeer Bluff theory. This is a Double Option concept so if the QB gets a pull read he now does not have the option to throw a screen. The H Back will block the force player to the side of the Zeer.  We like to bring him from the opposite side of the formation.  We will only run this theory vs. a 6 man box. If the team wants to play with a 7 man box or traditional 4-3 look you will not have enough bodies to block the play. We will bring in another Fullback vs. teams that like to leave 7 in the box so we now have 7 helmets to block.



  1. Great stuff keep it coming
    We are looking at doing very similar things

    1. I will do a few a week with whiteboard stuff. Speaking at Glazier in Tampa Mar 8th

    2. i have a youth football team, we run the first play, middle zone with key screen to the left and right. we did well against a 3, 4, and 5 man front. but had trouble with their adjustment to run a 6-2 offense. keep in mind the youths are 7-8-9. how do i handle that? what are your block rules for a youth linemen

  2. coach i really like this play and i would love to run it. however im curious as to what you call this play because the lineman are going one direction and the RB the opposite. i am personally a zone read kind of guy so most of my play calling terminology allows my RB and lineman to go in the same direction keeping the play call simple.

    1. This is a late response, but maybe you are still curious. Also, I hope I am understanding correctly. The blocking scheme front side replicates that of the Power/Counter blocking scheme. Front side is gapping back and washing everything back side. Where it gets slightly different is with the Center. His rule is block most dangerous A gap. A way to simplify that if you don't want your C thinking too much, simple tell him " Think Gap, if no BS gap threat; double team with PSG to the BSILB." Backside G/T are responsible for keeping their defenders back side.

      Personally, call it whatever you like. Just teach it as a gap scheme to your kids.