ITP Glossary: 22 Offensive Personnel

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From dino stem to spin move, 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.

22 Offensive Personnel

22 offensive personnel is a balanced package featuring two running backs, two tight ends and a single wide receiver. This can be used in short-yardage situations to run the football, but is also a very effective personnel grouping to attack the defense through the air using play-action. In the air, the 22 offensive personnel grouping wants to match up tight ends and running backs  on defensive backs or linebackers in the short and underneath passing game.

Power Football

On this play from Week 5 of the 2014 NFL season, the New England Patriots are looking to salt away a victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. They line up with Tom Brady (#12) under center with 22 personnel. Behind the quarterback James Develin (#46) and Stevan Ridley (#22) align in an i-formation. Two tight ends are in the game, Rob Gronkowski (#87) and Michael Hoomanawanui (#47). Brandon LaFell (#19) is the lone receiver split to the right. After sending Ridley in motion to the right, Brady hands the football to the fullback to chew some clock:

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22 Personnel and the Dropback Passing Game

On this snap from 2015 the Buffalo Bills use 22 personnel but attack the secondary in the vertical passing game. Early in the third quarter the Bills enjoy a nine-point lead and face 2nd and 10 at the New York Jets 26-yard line. Tyrod Taylor stands in the shotgun with 22 personnel on the field and slot formation to the right. The quarterback is flanked by dual running backs in the backfield, with fullback Jerome Felton (#42) on his left and RB Karlos Williams (#29) to his right. Tight end Charles Clay (#85) is in a tight wing on the right with Sammy Watkins (#14) split wide. The Jets have a base 3-4 defense in the game, and they show Cover 6 with weakside cornerback Marcus Williams (#20) down in the box over Matthew Mulligan (#82), the weakside TE:

NFLWeek10ReviewBuffaloStill1The Bills run a three-receiver route. Clay runs a post route from his tight alignment while Watkins runs a straight go route. Williams runs a vertical route out of the backfield, making sure to establish inside leverage and work back toward the middle of the field.

Watkins is covered well by Darrelle Revis (#24) on the vertical route. On the post route, Clay is surrounded by the other three defensive backs, any of whom could make a play on a potential throw. But just underneath is Williams, who is racing vertically and has established inside positioning on linebacker Demario Davis (#56). But if Taylor tries to lead the RB vertically up the top of the numbers, playside safety Marcus Gilchrist (#21), as well as Revis, are both in position to make a play on the pass. So what does the QB do?

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Taylor places his throw to the inside, toward the hashmark, trusting that his running back will be able to read and react to the throw in time. That is exactly what happens, as Williams cuts toward the inside to make the reception. The placement of the throw has another benefit. If you watch the movements of Gilchrist, he expects this play to keep Williams vertical. Once the safety recognizes the route from the RB, he widens himself toward the numbers. But when the throw brings Williams to the inside, the safety is out of position to make the tackle. This allows the rookie RB to cut into the end zone with the eventual game-winning score.

Power Look, Play-Action Pass

As mentioned, this package can be used in the play-action passing game. Here is an example from the 2014 meeting between the Montana Grizzlies and the North Dakota State Bison. The Grizzlies have the ball and 22 offensive personnel on the field. The second tight end and two running backs are in an inverted wishbone behind the quarterback. NDSU has its base defense on the field showing Cover 2.


After carrying out a play-fake, quarterback Jordan Johnson looks to throw:

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The personnel and the play-action fake draw in the defense, leading to the big play.

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Mark Schofield wrote this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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