The pre-season is about the three "E"s : Experience, Evaluation, and Experimenting. It's time for both players and coaches to find out what they are all about. Players definitely need the experience and are being evaluated every play. But perhaps more importantly, the Coaches need it as well.
Greg Olson is an experienced offensive coordinator at the NFL level but the Pistol is a new concept. The way it fits in with Olson's concepts and schemes is still a work in progress, as well as how the players will react to being put in particular situations. To that, he needs to get the experience with the Pistol, Evaluate the players in the system as well as the play designs themselves, and to experiment with those play designs.
In week 1, Greg Olson used the Pistol formation with Pryor three times with the same play call. In Week 2, the experimenting began with 5 more Pistol formation plays, using slightly different formations and varying play calls. Of these 5 plays, 4 of them were different. These were not all Read-Option plays; rather they were variations off the option, showing the dive run or the pass option. The blocking assignments were changed up and the motions were different. It definitely had the feel of plays that were testing out how well a few concepts would work.
From a X and O and conceptual level, it's quite interesting to see what he's trying and it shows quite a bit of potential. Here's a look at the 5 formations that Olson used :
Play 1 : Rollout Pass Play
Pryor rolls out to the right with both lead blocker releasing as receiving targets. Pryor completes to Olawale for a nice gain, but seems like Rivera would have been the better option.
Play 2: QB Keeper to the left
Either no read on this play or a very quick one as Pryor fakes the handoff and then scrambles to the outside. The play is made by the Corner in run support, beating WR Session's block. Curiously, the blocking assignments call for the LT and LG to double team the ILB while leaving the OLB running free.
Play 3 : HB Dive
In the same formation as the Read-option and in Play #1, but this time Pryor hands off to the Half Back. Also, this is not a read play since Pryor actually turns his back to the read-edge defender. This is a pure handoff.
Play 4 : Same play as Play #2. QB Keeper to the left
Same play as #2. This time Session gets the block, Pryor sets up the block, but the OLB beats Rivera's block to spill the play to the boundary. As in Play #2, the LT and LG double team the ILB and leave the OLB running free.
Note that the spacing between QB and RB seems to have been fixed. In Play #2, the spacing does not appear correct; here is looks better, with QB at 4 yards depth and the RB at 5.
Play 5 : Rollout Run/Pass Option
Fake G-Power play to the left and then rollout to the right. Saints appear to be playing zone behind it and the threat of the run compromises the deep middle, where Rivera is (or at least he seems to be) running free. Pryor stays on his primary receiver (Session), though, and ends up running the ball for a short gain.
For more details, see the plays here :