NFL

The “11” personnel effect: Time to Implement a Middle Pass Rush

Michael Pallas | September 3rd, 2019

The game of football is both simple and nuanced. It has evolved much in the last 40 years. Ever since Don Coryell aired it out in San Diego and Bill Walsh created the West Coast Offense, you could begin to see a slow shift from a run-based offense to a pass-based one. As it has shifted so has the offense, and now it’s time to focus on a pass rush up the middle instead of the edge.

The paradigm has been shifted yet again with the influx of 11 personnel and the predominance of that. According to Sharp Football Stats, 11 personnel was used on nearly 2/3 of snaps in the National Football League in 2018 — a rapid increase from 52% in 2017. According to Sharp, teams also passed the football 75% of the time out of 11 personnel.

So what does that do to defenses?

With that shift, teams are now playing more nickel base defenses with, and that means fewer linebackers and defensive linemen. That means more creative ways to get pressure on the quarterback.

The edge rusher is the most popular position, because of the speed and athleticism typically seen at the position, but offensive coordinators are now coming up with ways to negate the edge rusher’s effect by getting the ball out as quickly as possible utilizing the running back, tight end, and slot receiver.

Now, defenses need to be even more creative. Well, there’s a common axiom that goes like this, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

That, however, is the negative point of view. How it should go is more like this: Those who don’t learn from the good of history will never be able to repeat it.

Let’s look at history to see where we go with this line of thinking. In 2011, the New York Giants had a special package for pass rush downs that was dubbed their NASCAR package. It was when they too athletic defensive ends and moved them inside to use their athleticism to beat the guards.

Well, in today’s NFL, maybe it’s time to start considering moving athletic players inside to combat the quick passing game. Sure, bull-rushing may be more difficult than setting the edge, but that doesn’t mean people can’t figure out a way to use their athletic ability to get to the quarterback in the middle.

Many like to think outside the box. Well, it’s time for 21st century NFL coaches to start thinking inside the box.

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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images

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