Shaggy's Game 3 Preview

The Philadelphia Phoenix (0-2) are traveling south on Saturday to take on the second place DC Breeze (2-1). This will be the rematch of Philly’s home matchup on May 5th, which DC won 22 - 10. It will also be the first road game of the season for Philadelphia.

Typically going on the road is a problem, but the Phoenix might want to get out of Aston Pennsylvania for a few days. Philadelphia has been outscored by opponents 41-20 in just two games, for a -21 point differential. In all six losses last season, Philadelphia was outscored by just 19. 

The offense for Philadelphia has fallen off a cliff. They are currently last in the league in hold percentage, scoring on just 41% of offensive opportunities. That means every time the other team pulls, it is more likely they will score than the Phoenix will. For as poorly as the offense has performed this season, the defense hasn’t been much better. In 2023, Philadelphia had the fifth best break percentage in the league, scoring on 33.5% every time the other team started with the disc, and they did that against some of the stingiest offenses in the league, with 5 games against NY, DC, and Carolina, all teams in the top 5 of hold percentage for the season. This season that number is down to just 8%. Only Toronto and Detroit are forcing fewer scoring chances on defense. Philadelphia has the fewest blocks per game with just 5, the fewest breaks per game with just 1, the fewest holds per game in the league with just 9, and the fewest points per game with just 10. They are—by most metrics—either the worst team in the league, or tied for the worst team in the league. And anytime you’re mentioned in the same sentence as Detroit, you’ve got problems. 

They will face a DC team that, frankly, embarrassed them in their previous matchup. DC was without key contributors, such as former MVP Rowan McDonnel, and still utterly stifled the Phoenix. The Breeze maintained their stingy disc streak in their last match, edging Boston in a torrential rain. The Phoenix defense will have to climb a colossal hill to force the DC offense into sticky situations. A key focus will be slowing down Tyler Monroe. Flying under the radar of several DC offensive stars, Monroe has quietly slaughtered Philadelphia in their previous two games. He has amassed 4 assists, 4 goals, and has yet to throw an incompletion.

One option could be making Paul Owens play defense again. Paul is an elite defender, and was a key part of slowing down Johnny Malks in 2023, another Breeze player who torched the Hotbirds this past game. The defense has had an especially difficult time dealing with handlers this season, and returning one of the best handler defenders in the league could assuage that particular weakness.

Unless Paul is going to play every point—which he could, that guy rocks—that does leave a space open on the O line for some potential points. I liked seeing Jordan Rhyne and James Pollard back on offense against Boston, despite the O-line performing worse. I think that Brandon Pastor could also be a missing piece to an offensive unit that desperately needs something to kick it into gear. Pastor played on the O-line in 2022—the year Philly made the playoffs—which was the most successful offensive season in Phoenix history, and the only time they finished as a top 10 offense in terms of scoring efficiency.

The Hotbird offense could also use some dumbing down. Precision is nice, but if the pieces are a little off center or a little out of sync, then a precise machine will fail every time. The Phoenix offense is nowhere near center, and they could not be less in sync. James Pollard and Greg Martin barely touched the disc at all against Boston, and were +0 for the entire game—they each scored once and turned it over once. My suggestion? Just throw the disc at James and Greg. If the offense is going to be bad, at least make it exciting.

I have no reason to think that Philadelphia will beat DC. There is no number to pull from, no history to fall back on, there is nothing to suggest that the Hotbirds have what it takes to score 11 points in a game, let alone outscore an opponent. That said, life is too short to doubt yourself or your squad, and it isn’t Philly sports if you don’t get your hopes up. Phoenix shocks the Breeze, 18-17. Go Birds.