ITP Glossary: 21 Offensive Personnel

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.

21 Offensive Personnel

21 personnel is a balanced offensive personnel group, giving the offense two running backs, one tight end and two wide receivers on the field. This allows the offense to run the ball out of power formations such as the i-formation, throw the ball using play action, or even use two quicker running back and run up-tempo, spread style offenses.



In Super Bowl XLIX, New England tries to neutralize Seattle’s pressure scheme by placing Tom Brady in the shotgun with two running backs in the game as blockers. However, Brady makes a poor read of the defense, and his throw is intercepted:

[jwplayer file=”″ image=””]

But with two running backs on the field, the offense can run the ball effectively by employing a lead blocker. In recent years, the LSU Tigers have used 21 personnel to run one of their base plays – the lead toss:

[jwplayer file=”″ image=””]

Follow us on Twitter @ITPylon.

Inside The Pylon covers the NFL and college football, reviewing the film, breaking down matchups, and looking at the issues, on and off the field.

NFL video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass and/or Game Rewind. NCAA video and images courtesy of ESPN and the WatchESPN App. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *