The Best NFL Offenses Find What They’re Good At and Stick With It

The NFL is a copy-cat league, but the teams that stay unique in their approach, especially offensively, seem to experience the most success. Looking at the four teams who made it to the Conference Championship last season, it’s apparent each team had a distinct style they stuck with throughout the season.


The Los Angeles Rams have been the kings of 11 personnel in Sean McVay’s time with the franchise. McVay trotted it out on 81 percent of the Rams’ offensive snaps in 2017 and upped that usage to 87 percent last year, which led the NFL by a wide margin. The Rams had an above average success rate of 51 percent out of 11 personnel (the league average was 47 percent), so the Rams only ran 100 plays in 2018 with multiple backs or tight ends.

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The New England Patriots trailed only Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers in the usage of 21 personnel in 2018. The Pats used multiple running backs on over 35 percent of their snaps in 2018, far above the league average of roughly 12 percent. New England was especially efficient passing out of 21 personnel, compiling a passer rating of 99.2 on 90 attempts.

The Chiefs and Saints were also unique in their 2018 offensive approach. Only three teams used 12 personnel more than Kansas City and the Saints lined up with 11 personnel just 55 percent of the time, third-least among teams.

Across the league, successful offenses tend to stick to what they’re good at. The Texans finished the year with a passer rating of 124.9 when throwing out of 12 personnel in the first three quarters, something they did more than anyone else in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns’ usage of 13 personnel topped the league, and they averaged 11.1 yards per pass attempt with that group.

Looking ahead at the 2019 season, one team that could surprise people with their success is the Arizona Cardinals. Much like the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens a year ago, the unique combination of Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray could cause headaches for opposing defense who aren’t used to what the rookie quarterback and head coach bring to the table, provided they stick to what they’re good at.