Pistol formation gives Ravens "a good change-up"

With the Ravens offense continuing to struggle in its traditional offense, the coaching staff added a little wrinkle Sunday in Cleveland.

Baltimore began to employ the pistol formation - the same one used by such teams as the Redskins and 49ers in order to better capitalize on the running abilities of quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick. The Ravens aren't about to start rushing Joe Flacco more out of the backfield, but the addition of the pistol gives the offense another look as it tries to emerge from its first-half funk.

The Ravens ran the pistol five times Sunday and tailback Ray Rice gave it positive reviews.

"The times that we ran it, the first carry I got five yards. It's a good change-up," Rice said. "With Joe controlling this thing, I'm looking forward to continuing to try and change it up. Sometimes it will be ... Whether it's the gun, under center - it's essentially just doing the right different stuff. We've just got to execute at a high level. Joe drives this thing, and we're all just following. A lot of our mishaps come from communication. We've got to communicate at a high level. Being at home this week helps that out because we'll be able to hear each other and do what we've got to do."

Coach John Harbaugh said it could help the Ravens' running game because it provides the backs with different angles, allowing for more space and time to get in sync with the offensive line.

Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell explained the reasons the Ravens decided to try it out.

"There's a lot of different things," he said. "Particularly when you've been throwing the ball as much as we have, that particular look gives us a chance to run the ball from a deep pump position and not necessarily from an offset position. That's probably the biggest benefit and you can do a number of different things out of it."

Harbaugh thought it went well for a first run.

"We ran some of our zone schemes out of that, and there's going to be more of that," he said. "Obviously, there's a lot of offense that you can run out of that formation, and it's something that we'll try to build on, just to cause defenses something else to defend, and things that aren't that hard for us to do."