Football is littered with specialized terminology. From Mills concept to robber technique, 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.
14 Offensive Personnel
14 offensive personnel is a heavy package consisting of four tight ends, one running back and zero wide receivers. Typically seen in short yardage and red zone situations, teams deploy 14 offensive personnel when they need to gain a few, important yards. Yet, 14 offensive personnel remains a flexible grouping, allowing teams to throw or run the ball.
The 14 package can be run out with the quarterback under center and the running back lined up in the backfield alone, or with the quarterback in the shotgun with the running back alongside. 14 offensive personnel is rarely used:
During the entire 2014 season there were 6 plays where a team had 4 TEs on the field. Tonight NE had 6 plays with 4 TE's on the field.
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) September 11, 2015
The New England Patriots surprisingly used 14 offensive personnel against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the 2015 campaign to great success. Scott Chandler, Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, and Michael Williams were on the field for six plays, largely concentrated near the goal line and produced three of the Patriots’ four touchdowns – via the pass.
Creating Mismatch #1
On second and goal from the 6 yard line the Patriots showed a run heavy look with their four tight ends. The Steelers had two safeties in rather than a true heavy set, but they had to respect the run given the personnel, tight formation, and proximity to the goal line. This left them susceptible to the play action and led to an easy touchdown connection:
Hoomanawanui (#47) and Williams (#85) align to the left, while Gronkowski (#87) and Chandler (#88) line up to the right. The Patriots sell a zone run right, with the entire line flowing to that side and quarterback Tom Brady (#12) faking a handoff to Brandon Bolden (#38).
Gronkowski acts as if he’s trying to block on the second level, then releases into the end zone. Safety Will Allen (#20) realizes what is happening, and at the last moment tries to grab the tight end’s jersey, but is beaten.
Creating Mismatch #2
On second and goal from the 1 yard line in the third quarter, the Patriots again rolled out the four-tight-end package and aligned in a classic jumbo run look, with Chandler lined up in the backfield as a fullback, Gronkowski left, and Williams and Hoomanawanui right. The Steelers countered with their goal line defense, intent on stopping the run that close to the goal line.
First, Hoomanawanui splits out wide right, with linebacker Ryan Shazier (#50) following him. Then Chandler and Gronk shift left, with Chandler settling into the slot with Gronkowski wide. Linebackers Terence Garvin (#57) and Lawrence Timmons (#94) walk out to cover them:
The Patriots have shifted into a three-receiver formation, but the Steelers still have eight in the box to stop the run.
Brady knows he has three one-on-one matchups and all he has to do is to pick the best option. In this case it’s Chandler, who runs an out route, using the in-cut by Gronkowski to create a natural pick.
Creating Mismatch #3
This next play the Patriots again broke out the four-tight-end look, lining up in the same formation as in the third quarter touchdown and employing identical pre-snap shifts. Pittsburgh also reacted the same way, with Garvin and Timmons again covering Gronk and Chandler on the left side and eight defenders staying in the box:
The Patriots do not run the same play, however, with the receivers running different routes this time. Gronkowski takes a jab step, faking as if he’s running the in-cut again, but then dashes to the corner of the end zone. Garvin bites, and this feint opens plenty of space for Brady to loft a pass to the big tight end for the score that would prove to be the final margin of victory.
What About The Run?
On this play from 2015, the Tennessee Titans look to convert a short fourth down against the New England Patriots. They put quarterback Zach Mettenberger (#7) under center and line up with four tight ends:
They run Antonio Andrews (#26) to the left side, but the defense is ready:
Of course, just because of the bigger bodies on the field, a defense needs to be ready against the pass, especially when playing those Patriots.
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Dave Archibald and Mark Schofield wrote this entry.
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All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.