Heavy use of heavy personnel in Packers early training camp practices

Green Bay Packers tight end Josiah Deguara (81) participates during training camp Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, Wis.Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
Green Bay Packers tight end Josiah Deguara (81) participates during training camp Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, Wis.Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. /

Through the Green Bay Packers first two training camp practices, there has been a fairly regular usage of two tight end and two running back sets from the offense.

The Packers have begun each practice so far in 12 personnel (two tight ends), with Josiah Deguara and Luke Musgrave as the starters on the field, and have continued to utilize this formation throughout the days. Tyler Davis, who may be the best blocking tight end the Packers have, was on the field as well during some of these 12 personnel groupings.

Of course, at running back, Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are one and two on the depth chart, but Tyler Goodson has seen some snaps as the second running back as well, specifically as the motion man or lined up out of the backfield.

Green Bay relying heavily on two tight end formations would not be new for them. Last season, the Packers used 12 personnel 29 percent of the time, the second-highest rate in football, per Sports Info Solutions. They would use 21 personnel, or two running back sets, just nine percent of the time, but it was the third most frequent personnel grouping the Packers utilized.

Perhaps, to a degree, the heavy usage of 12 and 21 personnel will help take some of the burden off a young receiver group. But in the Matt LaFleur offense, it can also help create that illusion of complexity that we often hear him talk about.

To maximize these personnel groupings, versatility is important, and the Packers have that. Tight ends need to be able to line up both inside and out, as well as impact both the running and passing games. While running backs need to be factors in the passing game and line up in the slot.

Having this element adds unpredictability to the offense with it being difficult for defenses to decipher what is going to take place pre-snap. It can also create mismatches as it allows the offense to run a wide variety of plays from these single personnel groupings, forcing the defense against these lineups to either line up in their base personnel in an effort to have flexibility or play with heavier personnel so that they can hold up in the run game.

"“Oh, it’s huge,” said offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich during OTAs via Bill Huber. “When you can play these guys in the box and then be vertical threats, when you can split them out and get them isolated on linebackers and safeties and win one-on-one matchups, that’s going to be a very important thing for our offense. We’re just going to see how it goes as we move along.”"

Unfortunately, last season, when the Packers used two running backs, they weren’t all that effective. At one point, Green Bay was averaging nearly two yards fewer per play with two running backs on the field. To a degree, these results could be tied to the Packers’ heavy usage of a split back gun backfield, as Justis Mosqueda wrote, where they called an RPO 62 percent of the time, and typically the play call was either a zone run or a swing screen.

More pre-snap motion and giving the defense a greater variety of looks with different alignments for the running backs could help Green Bay’s overall effectiveness in 21 personnel.

The end result of all of this is that it hopefully takes some of the playmaking burden off of Jordan Love and the overall young Packers offense. Instead, the scheme and play calls do some of the heavy lifting, helping to get players in space or in favorable matchups that they can then take advantage of.