Steelers Offense Went To “11” Quite A Bit In 2013

According to a recent post by Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders, teams used “11” personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wideouts) 51.2 percent of the time in 2013 and used three or more receivers on 58.8 percent of plays.

Also according to their data, teams used “11” personnel 45.7 percent of the time in 2012 and 40.4 percent the year before.

“Right now, the most efficient way to play offense in the NFL is to put three wide receivers, one running back and one tight end on the field with your quarterback in the shotgun for a majority of snaps,” Schatz wrote. “Not all of them, you have to switch it up of course, but most of them.”

So where did the Steelers rank last year as far as far their “11” personnel usage? While Schatz doesn’t have those numbers in his article, our own charting project from last season shows that the Steelers used it 58.8 percent of the time.

When you consider that the Steelers offense very rarely used more than three wide receivers on a play in 2013 (14 times), you can see where they meet the 58.8 percent average for the three or more wideouts used with their “11” personal usage alone.

While the Steelers usage of “12” (one running back, two tight ends, two wideouts) and “21” (two running backs, one tight end, two wideouts) personnel in 2013 was below the league average, their use of six offensive linemen on the line was way above average.

Why so much usage of six offensive lineman? For starters, the team was without tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth to start the season. When they finally got Miller on the field, David Johnson was lost for the season. In addition, David Paulson wasn’t the answer as a blocking tight end and Michael Palmer was only slightly better.

We can only imagine and hope that healthy tight ends in 2014 will result in the usage of six offensive linemen on the field for plays will reduce quite a bit and we’ll show you why in a future post.

As far as the Steelers possible usage of “11” personnel in 2014 goes compared to 2013, it’s hard to imagine it fluctuating much. However, if forced to bet, my money would be on it being a tad lower because of the usage of a little more “12” and “21” personnel. Also, keep in mind that the Steelers ran 118 plays last season with 7:30 or less left in the game while trailing by three or more points. Those situations almost always dictate “11” personal be used.

2013 Average Offensive Personnel Groupings Usage Compared To Steelers

PersonnelFO AVGPIT
6+ OL3.50%9.80%

  • Eric MacLaurin

    This is where Dri is very interesting. He can give you so many looks in the no huddle the defense can’t adjust without making significant changes to what they normally do.

  • SteelersDepot

    Really have to be prepared to use him as a running back (successfully) when on the field, however, as not to set off red flashing lights like it was with Rainey.

  • cencalsteeler

    That percentage is probably skewed due the fact they were playing from behind a lot in 13. If the Steelers can establish a lead, the amount of 11 personnel plays will probably drop off.

  • cencalsteeler

    I agree. The offense should see just as much success using him as a decoy as they would giving him touches.

  • shawn

    Great Stats .. love that … looking at that near 60% number & only 14 plays of 4 WR sets … its hard to believe that Bryant will get a lot of playing time unless it is solely in the RZ or he surpasses Moore … I also can’t see them not using Bryant significantly either (if he shows he’s capable in camp & preseason) … its going to be interesting to see how they get him on the field … I’m still of the mindset that he will get at or close to 200+ snaps …

    so not sure what will give … either he will win the 3rd Wr job by mid season or they might rotate him and Moore … but i just can’t see him sitting too long !

  • shawn

    Another interesting perception that i take away from the above stats is that …. now days the #3 WR and #3 CB can almost really be looked at as starters these days … if they are on the field half the time or more than you pretty much got to look at them like they are right !

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I’ve been wondering about the best way to work him in and can’t say I’m convinced one way or the other. I tend to agree about putting him at RB but still have no reason to believe he can’t do what Mike Wallace did in terms of forcing the defense to be honest with their safety if not devote two players just to defend him on a deep pattern. If he has the ability to keep the safety out of the box when he is split wide and draws a double team when he isn’t even in the play he brings a ton of value beyond his stats.

    As far as his use on the field I think he can be very effective split out wide with his speed and can be effective in the backfield. I would like to have him used as a 2nd RB to trap defensive personnel on the field for a no huddle that could split him wide on some plays.

    Until he shows he can’t do what Wallace did I can’t see a reason to keep him in the backfield and it seems to be a waste of his speed, especially when the play isn’t called for him. Wouldn’t Bell do better with Dri split than sitting next to him in the backfield?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    A rare special player?

    Is that as opposed to the more common special players?

    I think you’re getting carried away if you think he is a HOF player if used correctly.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I noticed that small number of 4 WR sets in the numbers too. I wondered if it was partially based on the fact that we didn’t really have 4 good WR’s

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Agree. If you face a 3 WR set over 50% of the time you need to be in a sub package most of the time. That’s what excites me most about Tuitt. We have two absolute studs on the line and while I worry about all of our linebackers being light I can see going with a 2 man line most of the time.

    I do think that with Shamarko and hopefully Spence we can go with options besides a 3rd CB but that can be decided by who the receivers are.

  • shawn

    lol … “rare special player” ok u got me with the poor word choice … but ur missing the point … HOF has nothing to do with anything other than LONGEVITY … what I’m talking about is IMPACT ,EXCITING, GAME CHANGING … & JAW DROPPING Performances …

    His Star might only shine for 6-7 Years but I’m betting they will be more than eventful …

    just for your HOF comment …. 2 of the Best WR’s I have ever seen play the game are rarely mentioned …. JJ (John Jefferson) & Sterling Sharpe ….. both due to short careers … doesnt make them any less great !

  • shawn

    we did … he was just injured a lot lol “Wheaton”

  • craig

    Going to be a very interesting year, just wish it would get here quicker.

  • Steve

    Camp will be here before we know it. Last year we played a lot of 2 D line. If LB can hit and tackle who cares if they are lite. The LB position is getting more and more into dropping into coverage and being able to keep up with either a TE or back out of the backfield. This is where Shazier’s speed will come into play.