In a fascinating read, the Ringer’s Robert Mays takes a look at the Los Angeles Rams’ offense, and specifically their use of the 11 personnel grouping (meaning one running back and one tight end)
In 2018, coach Sean McVay’s team used 11 personnel on an astounding 96 percent of its offensive plays. No other team finished higher than 90 percent, and only five used 11 personnel on more than 80 percent of their snaps. That discrepancy is stunning.
By leaving the same package on the field for most of the game, the Rams potentially create more confusion than teams like the New England Patriots, who regularly mix up their personnel groupings to keep defenses on their heels. It’s as if by showing his cards, McVay is holding them close.
As Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods says:
“We force [the defense] to communicate. They do take away something, but they do give something. … I know that we’re condensed, but they still have to respect every single cut.”
The grouping creates mismatches in the running game as well.
Some opposing teams have attempted to combat the Rams offense by staying in base defense, despite the mismatches that might create in the passing game. By doing this, teams avoid getting locked into a nickel package (featuring three cornerbacks and two linebackers), which would allow Gurley to gash the defense all game long. Gurley faced eight or more men in the box on just 8.2 percent of his carries this season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats; that’s the third-lowest rate in the league, behind 5-foot-6 Bears flash of lightning Tarik Cohen and 200-pound Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood.
The 11 personnel grouping allows the Rams to put the most speed and versatility on the field at the same time. Dress it up with motion, jet sweeps, and plug in explosive playmakers at every position and you have the makings of one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL.
Y’all ready for this, Cowboys?