They call it the 12. It’s a personnel grouping of one running back, two tight ends and two receivers. You’ll be seeing the Green Bay Packers running a lot of it this year.
It’s what the New England Patriots did with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett last year. It’s what they did with Gronk and Aaron Hernandez before that. Clearly, highly-successful offensive attacks.
The Packers only ran 31 plays out of the 12 last year. You can surely guess why. Their tight ends were Richards Rodgers and…
Things have obviously changed. The Packers now have Bennett, one of the best at his position in the league. They also have Lance Kendricks. There’s a guy who caught 50 for 499 last year for the Rams. If you’re unaware, the 2016 Rams had the worst quarterback situation in football.
Oh, and Rodgers is supposedly having his best camp to date.
You can see the potential in the passing game. So can Aaron Rodgers.
“We haven’t had that in the offense since (Finley) and Donald Lee and Andrew Quarless, which it’s been a lot of years now,” he said. “We just didn’t have that personnel grouping consistently, and 12 personnel is a grouping that if you can use it effectively — you see how New England used it last year with Marty and (Rob Gronkowski) — it’s tough to stop. You can run both sides out of it. You can do the four-vertical passing game. You can do quick-game stuff. I think that is going to be a big part of our identity moving forward.”
That’s the other thing. Bennett and Kendricks are both solid blockers. In fact, I’d say Bennett is a borderline dominant blocker.
The 12 can benefit the running game, as well.
There are tradeoffs, of course. At least in terms of playing time.
Two guys you’re likely to see a lot less of are fullback Aaron Ripkowski and slot receiver Randall Cobb. But we can see where the Packers’ offense is going. Coach Mike McCarthy loves the tight end position.
“It’s become a premier position in football,” McCarthy said. “I’ve always felt the left tackle and the quarterback are the two priority positions when you are trying to develop and build an offense. I think you have to start throwing the tight end there because they are asked to do so many things. The ability to win down the middle of the field with that body type is critical to being successful throwing the football.”
Another side effect of the 12 just might be more carries for the Packers’ running backs. We’ll believe it when we see it, but it’s logical in terms of personnel.
Richard Rodgers has always been a terrible blocker. As mentioned, Bennett and Kendricks are not. It’s a hell of a lot easier to run the ball when your tight end isn’t blowing up the play due to incompetence.
Either way, this offense should be fun to watch. And if the defense doesn’t blow it again, look out!