The term 11 personnel in football refers to a formation that includes one tight end and one running back. This personnel grouping also includes three wide receivers making it more prominent in pass-heavy offenses.
Whenever you see numbers such as 11, 21, or 22 personnel they are describing the number of tight ends and running backs on the field.
The first number refers to how many running backs are on the field and the second number refers to how many tight ends are on the field.
So 21 personnel means two running backs and one tight end on the field. While 12 personnel would mean one running back and two tight ends on the field.
On top of letting you know how many RBs and TEs are on the field, you can use these personnel numbers to determine all the personnel a team is fielding on the play.
On the vast majority of plays, a team is going to have five offensive linemen and one quarterback on the field. This takes up six of the potential spots on the offense leaving only five remaining.
These five remaining positions are going to be divided up among running backs, tight ends, and receivers.
Meaning once you know the number of running backs and tight ends you can determine the number of receivers.
When you have eleven personnel you have one tight end one running back. There are five offensive linemen and a quarterback as well, meaning that eight of the eleven starters are spoken for.
This means that there are going to be three receivers in an 11-personnel set. If you were to have a formation with two running backs and two tight ends there would only be a single receiver in the set.
Benefits Of 11 Personnel In Football
Now that you have learned what eleven personnel means in football it is time to learn why teams use this formation. Below we will break down some of the biggest benefits of using eleven personnel on your offense.
Four Receiving Threats
One of the biggest benefits of a team using this personnel grouping is that they are able to put pressure on the opponent’s pass defense.
With three receivers and one tight end, an 11-personnel offense can be tough to contain.
When in zone coverage defenses will struggle to cover all four receiving threats. Offenses will use strategies such as a sail concept in order to overwhelm one side of the field.
With four receivers teams can send three receivers to a single side of the field. Zone defenses often only have two players on a single side of the field meaning one of the receivers will outnumber the defenders.
The four receiver threat is also effective against man coverage. With four receivers there is a guarantee that some of them will get one-on-one coverage.
If a team is able to get one of their talented wide receivers one on one with a defender then they will have some great opportunities to pass the ball.
Clearing Out The Box
Another benefit of playing 11 personnel in football is that it clears out the box. The box in football refers to the area of the defensive backfield roughly five yards back from the offensive line.
When a team is focusing on run defense they will stack the box. This means they will have a large number of players in this area in order to prevent the opposing team from running the ball.
When taking the field with three receivers and a tight end the opposing team may take players out of the box. This will be done in order to bring on more defensive backs to cover the receiving threats.
This gives the offense the opportunity to run the ball against a fairly empty box.
Six Man Pass Protection
Another added benefit of running one running back one tight and three receivers is that you can utilize six-man protection.
Tight ends are quality blockers and when needed can be used to protect the quarterback as an extra offensive lineman.
Since there are still three receivers on the field the offense can still threaten the defense if the tight end stays back to protect the quarterback.
Between the three receivers and the running back the offense can still send out four potential receivers while still having six players protect the quarterback.
Teams can still run with this personnel
Though 11 personnel is often used for passing plays teams can still effectively run out of this personnel grouping.
If the defense is going to react to three receivers on the field they will likely add an extra defensive back.
This change in defensive personnel plus having one tight end on the field means this personnel is able to run the ball.
Though the blocking on this grouping is not going to be as effective as a 22 personnel for example it will still allow for a little variation in the play calls.