Before I get too much into covering particular plays or news, I want to address alot of the basics of the game. My hope is that someone with little to no basic knowledge of the game of Football would be able to read my first few posts and gain a good bit of understanding. First thing we’ll go over is the basics on the offensive side of the ball, and we’ll look at defense later on…
First off, take a look at the graphic below and we’ll talk about some positions on offense.
This graphic is an illustration of what an offensive coach would call a “Strong Right” formation. This is a very traditional formation that almost every team in the NFL will line up in at one point or another during a game or season. We’ll now walk through each position in this formation starting with the so-called “skill positions.”
Quarterback (QB)- The most important player on the offense. Leader of the offense, receives the ball from the center which starts the play.
Wide Receiver (WR)- The name says it all. Most of the time they line up wide away from the formation, and their primary job is to receive passes from the QB. Referred to by coaches as X and Z.
Running Back (RB)- Again, pretty self-explanatory. Lines up in the backfield, usually behind the QB, and his primary job is to run with the ball after the QB hands it to him. Referred to by coaches as H.
Full Back (FB)- The unsung hero of the skill positions. He usually lines up between the QB and the RB, sometimes offset to the left or right as shown. His primary job is to block for the RB when he is carrying the ball. Referred to by coaches as F.
Tight End (TE)- Again, self-explanatory (can’t complicate to much for these athletes!) he traditionally lines up tight to one end of the offesive formation. Where he lines up usually creates the strength of the formation. Referred to by coaches as Y.
Now we’ll move on to the big uglies up front, this is the Offensive Line. These guys all share the same jobs, to block for the RB when he carries the ball, or to protect the QB when he is attempting to pass.
Center (C)- Lines up in the center of the line (imagine that!) and snaps the ball to the QB to start the play.
Guards (RG/LG)- Line up next to the center on either the Right or Left side (hence the RG and LG).
Tackles (RT/LT)- Line up outside the guards on each side.
Understanding these positions is going to help us as we get into personnel groupings, and as we later discuss schemes, and strategy.
Winning on the offensive side of the ball in the NFL has largely become about creating favorable matchups for your team. For example, if I have a receiver who is 6’4″ and the defense has a player who is only 5’10”, that is a mismatch, and something I can take advantage of as an offense. One way that you can create those mismatches for your offense is to change the personnel you have on the field for a particular play.
The offensive line personnel stays the same on virtually every play, so the changes happen with the skill positions. By removing the FB and adding a third WR, or a Second TE you can change the way the defense will try to defend you, and create a mismatch. Since you are only allowed 11 players on the field at a time, and since you almost always have five linemen and one QB. That means you can change the five skill positions around in almost any possible combination.
These combinations are identified using a numbering system that identifies the number of backs (RB & FB), and number of TE’s that are in the group, leaving the number of WR’s as inferred. The first digit of the number states the number of backs, the second digit represents the number of TE’s. Below are some common NFL personnel groupings.
21 (2 Backs, 1 TE, 2 WR)- Base, or Regular Personnel
12 (1 Back, 2 TE, 2 WR)- Ace Personnel.
11 (1 back, 1 TE, 3 WR)- Posse Personnel
22 (2 backs, 2 TE, 1 WR)- Tank Personnel
23 (2 backs, 3 TE, 0 WR)- Jumbo or Heavy Personnel
00 (0 backs, 0 TE, 5 WR)- Zero Personnel
20 (2 backs, 0 TE, 3 WR)- Twenty Personnel
One thing to remember about these personnel groupings is that having a back on the field doesn’t necessarily mean he will always line up behind the QB, or a Tight End doesn’t always mean he will line up directly next to one of the Tackles. The personnel grouping simply refers to the actual people who are on the field, not where they line up. These alignments are another way that teams attempt to gain match up advantages.
Now that we understand the basics of offensive positions and personnel we will look at the basics on defense. So we can understand how teams work to attack each other.