Will 12 Personnel be the Vikings Secret Weapon in 2023?


In a Vikings offense that has multiple playmakers, the secret weapon in 2023 might just be the maligned signing of a so-called blocking tight end. While fans and national pundits were not overjoyed with the investment in Josh Oliver, his presence will allow for more creativity in play calling, specifically through the use of 12 personnel.

For those of you that aren’t football scholars. 12 personnel is a formation label that means 1 back and 2 TEs. O’Connell came to the Vikings with the reputation for 11 personnel looks, which would have 1 back, 1 TE and typically three WRs. This reputation proved true in 2022. Per Next Gen Stats and, Minnesota utilized 11 personnel 73.6% of the time. With Oliver joining a roster that already has T.J. Hockenson, 12 personnel will likely cut into that 73% in 2023. This should be good news for Vikings fans, as 12 personnel could be key to elevate into the elite tier of NFL offenses.

As one would expect, a 12 personnel formation with Oliver will most certainly help the Vikings’ run game in 2023. Oliver comes to the Vikings with a penchant for run blocking. According to PFF, Oliver had a run blocking grade of 74.6 in 2022, good for the second-best TE with at least 100 snaps in the NFL and best with 200 snaps. More of a visual person? Check out this video of Oliver laying the lumber.

Oliver’s addition might have just as much of an effect on the Vikings’ pass game. Oliver is known for his blocking prowess at the pro level, but he was a standout receiver at the college level, racking up 56 receptions for 709 yards his senior year. He even led all Group of 5 TEs in 1st down and TD receptions.

Coming from a Ravens offense piloted by run-game guru Greg Roman, Oliver didn’t have much of a runway to succeed in a pass game dominated by fellow TE Mark Andrews. But in a pass first offense driven by O’Connell, he just might. In fact, reports from Vikings minicamp already are rolling in about the desire for the Vikings to be more versatile on offense. Versality with more 12 personnel looks would be one way to get Justin Jefferson open on previously unseen route concepts. It could also take some pressure off Jordan Addison to step in and succeed right away.

If Oliver can prove to be strong receiving option, 12 personnel will be a dangerous formation for the Vikings in which they could either keep multiple blockers in or send 4 reliable pass catchers downfield out of the same pre-snap look.

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