What Does 23 Personnel Mean In Football?

The term 23 personnel in football refers to a formation that includes two running backs and three tight ends. This formation includes zero wide receivers meaning it is more prominently used in a run heavy offense.

When you see a number before the word personnel this is a descriptor as to how many players at each position are on the field.

The first digit is going to represent the number of running backs in the formation and the second digit is going to represent the number of tight ends.

This means 11 personnel would mean one running back and one tight end while 01 personnel would mean zero running backs and one tight end.

Additionally, by determining the number of tight ends and running backs on the field you can fill in the blanks to find out the rest of the starting players.

Each offense is going to have eleven starters on the field. There is almost always going to be five offensive linemen and one quarterback. This only leaves six remaining starting spots for the formation.

The rest of the starting eleven players are going to be wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs.

This means you can use these personnel numbers to determine how many tight ends, receivers, and backs are on the field.

Twenty-three personnel for example would mean two tight ends and three backs. This is five players, add in the five linemen and the quarterback and you have eleven. This means there are no receivers in 23 personnel.

Now let’s say we are in eleven personnel. That means there is going to be one tight end one running back. These two players plus the five linemen and the quarterback equals eight players.

This means the remaining three players are receivers. Resulting in 11 personnel featuring one tight end one running back and three receivers.

Benefits Of 23 Personnel

Now that you understand which position groups make up the 23 personnel formation it’s time to find out what this formation is used for.

Run Blocking

Far and away the biggest benefit of running 23 personnel is the advantage it gives you in the running game. It is no secret that wide receivers are the offensive skill position that contributes the least to the running game.

By reducing the number of wide receivers on the field and adding extra tight ends the blocking is going to noticeably improve.

Additionally, tight ends are not going to line up near the sideline like wide receivers. These players tend to line up much closer to the formation. This allows them to be more involved in rushing plays.

The increased size of the players in this formation also makes it more likely the offensive line gets a good push. A push in football refers to the offensive line’s ability to move the defensive line backwards after the snap.

Pushing them back a few yards essentially guarantees that the ball carrier will gain at least a couple of yards on the run.

This is why you will often see this formation used in short-yardage situations. Third and short, as well as goal-line situations, are known for using formations that feature noticeably larger players than most formations.

Multiple Rushing Threats

Another benefit of using 23 personnel in football is that there are several players that may carry the ball.

When running the ball defenders are usually able to keep an eye on the running back in order to determine where they are going to go with the ball. This way if the running back is handed the ball the defenders can run in that direction.

When running a formation with 23 personnel you will find there are several players in the backfield that can run the ball. Between the two running backs and the quarterback, there are three different players that may carry the ball.

This makes it more difficult for the defense as the offense has more weapons to choose from. This makes it easier to run option plays in the backfield due to a large number of choices at the offense’s disposal.

Few Negative Plays

Another benefit of this offensive formation is that it rarely results in negative plays. Earlier in the article, we spoke of the push that this formation can generate against the defensive line.

This push usually means that the ball carrier is going to gain yards even if he runs right into the defensive line.

Additionally, since passing is rarely done in this formation a chance of a sack on the quarterback is quite low.

This is why this formation is often used on third and fourth downs. Losing yards in these situations can be devastating. By using this style of personnel you can ensure that your offense is unlikely to go backwards.

That concludes our guide on 23 personnel read about ten personnel or 20 personnel groupings to learn more about other position combinations used in football.

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