In the majority of offenses there is going to be one tight end on the field. Some formations feature two and even three tight ends on the field at one time. Though the increased amount of passing in the NFL has resulted in many teams using zero tight end sets as well.
Generally speaking, NFL offenses will use a single tight end on the field. In today’s NFL passing is king and using a single tight end is going to allow for more wide receivers on the field.
Many teams will utilize formations that do not include any tight ends on the field in order to have four wide receivers.
One Tight End On The Field
The most common number of tight ends on the field in football is one. In most cases, this single tight end is going to line up on the end of the offensive line.
When this tight end lines up they are usually making the side of the field they are on the strong side.
The strong side refers to the side of the field which features more players. The strong side is the side of the field that the ball is almost always run towards.
On rushing plays, the single tight end is going to play a vital role in blocking for the running back. The single tight end can also run routes out of his position along the offensive line.
One tight end personnel groups are often used when the tight end is utilized to catch passes. NFL teams that have tight ends that are receiving threats will often be used in these sorts of situations.
Two Tight End Sets
Though a single tight end is the primary personnel grouping in the NFL there are also groupings that include two tight ends.
When lining up with two tight ends teams have a few options. They can place both tight ends on the same side of the formation or they can place a tight end on either end of the offensive line.
In most cases, the two tight end package in football is going to be used when running the ball.
Tight ends are very effective blockers and have the ability to create holes for the ball carrier to run through. By taking some wide receivers off the field and replacing them with tight ends the offense can expect better blocking on their running plays.
Though it is primarily used for running the ball two tight end sets can also be used to pass the ball. This is especially true on play-action passes.
Since the opposing team is expecting a run on plays with this personnel a play-action pass can be quite effective.
Oftentimes on these players, tight ends are able to block for a second or two only to release downfield in order to catch a pass from the quarterback.
Three Tight End Sets
Though it is fairly uncommon some teams choose to utilize three tight ends on the field at one time. Similar to running two tight ends this formation is almost always used to run the football.
Most times a team uses three tight ends in their offense the defense will adjust to match the personnel. Typically this means that the defense is going to bring on larger players and put more of them in the box.
This is going to make it more difficult to run the football as there will be more defensive players closer to the line of scrimmage.
For this reason among others the use of three tight end sets in the NFL is fairly uncommon.