New England Patriots

Sep 8, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with wide receiver Julian Edelman (11), wide receiver Josh Gordon (10), and tight end Ryan Izzo (85) during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots run a variety of formations on offense when it comes to the players they put on the field. You may often hear commentators like 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Scott Zolak describe things like “11 personnel” when the Pats line up during games.

Wondering what Zo means? Here’s a quick primer to understand offensive personnel groupings.

After the quarterback and five offensive linemen, football teams have five skill players to deploy on any given offensive play. They define their personnel packages by the number of running backs and tight ends on the field. Each position is assigned a digit to denote how many are being used.

So if you have one running back and one tight end on the field, you call it “11 personnel”, ie. 1 running back + 1 tight end. If you have one running back and two tight ends, it’s called “12 personnel”. See how it works?

Here’s a quick list of the different personnel groupings and what they mean. Below is the list of packages that the 2019 Patriots have used so far.

10 personnel: 1 RB, 0 TE, 4 WR
11 personnel: 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR
12 personnel: 1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR
20 personnel: 2 RB, 0 TE, 3 WR
21 personnel: 2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR
22 personnel: 2 RB, 2 TE, 1 WR

There’s also zero-back sets like “00”, “01”, and “02” personnel where you’d see an empty backfield. But those are exceedingly rare. The Patriots, especially, like to at least have the threat of the run on the field.

Also rare are groupings with zero wide receivers, like “23 personnel” (two RBs, three TEs). But the essence of this primer is to show you what analysts are talking about when they describe the packages on the field.

This should help you gain a quicker understanding of personnel packages and how teams like the Patriots utilize them during games. We’ll cover the Patriots’ groupings each week in the Package Report.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.