Football is littered with specialized terminology. From trips to press man, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.
11 Offensive Personnel
11 offensive personnel is a personnel grouping in which an offense uses one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers. The “11” specifically refers to the number of running backs (1) and tight ends (1) in the grouping. While 11 personnel lacks the power of the two-tight end set of 12 personnel, it allows for greater flexibility due to the additional wide receiver on the field. Many offenses employ 11 personnel as their base offensive unit due to the flexibility afforded by the package.
11 packages are currently very popular around the NFL. The 11 offensive personnel package allows for a wide selection of plays and pass protections. On a passing play, a team can keep the tight end and/or the running back in pass protection or send both out into the route, depending on the defense. Additionally, with the tight end present, the team can run the ball either toward the strength of the formation or away from it, depending on the defensive front.
If the defense stays in a base package or a nickel package, the quarterback can utilize the passing game to attack the numbers in the secondary. If the defense looks to stop the pass and brings in extra defensive backs, the quarterback can run the ball at the outnumbered defensive front.
Here is a play from New England’s third touchdown drive from Super Bowl XLIX. Josh McDaniels calls a Cover 3 beater for this third down, using intermediate crossing routes at various levels to attack the Seattle defense. Brady has trips to his left with Julian Edelman outside, Danny Amendola in the middle, and tight end Rob Gronkowski in a wing alignment just outside left tackle Nate Solder. All three receivers run routes breaking over the middle ‒ Edelman and Gronkowski at a depth of 15 yards, Amendola at a depth of 10. On the other side of the offense, Brandon LaFell, split wide right, runs a deep curl route. Meanwhile, running back Shane Vereen chips the outside edge defender before executing a short curl route of his own over the middle:
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Pressure on the edges forces Tom Brady to climb the pocket. As the passer moves toward the line of scrimmage, linebacker Bobby Wagner faces a decision: Stay in his zone, or cover Vereen on the short curl route? The linebacker crashes down on Vereen, vacating the underneath zone.
Wagner’s choice opens up a throwing lane for Brady to find Edelman on a deep crossing route. The QB delivers a strong throw that the receiver snares before absorbing a crushing blow from safety Kam Chancellor. Somehow, Edelman not only hangs on to the football but stays upright, racing into Seattle territory.
Mark Schofield contributed to this entry.
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All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass and/or Game Rewind.