Shaggy's Game 6 Recap

By Shaggy Shragis

The Philadelphia Phoenix (1-5) smoldered their way to a 22 - 12 loss against the division leading Boston Glory (6-2). It was Philly’s fourth loss by 8 or more points this season, and their fifth straight loss to the Boston Glory. It was the worst game for the Phoenix offense this season.

For the third time this year, Philly held on less than half of all their offensive opportunities. At no point in this game did Philadelphia manage back to back holds. Equally distressing, the offense failed to get a single disc back after a turnover, with their only “stop” coming on a failed buzzer beating opportunity by the Glory defense. It was the worst hold rate for any team in any game this season, with only 7 holds out of 23 total opportunities. For as bad as the Phoenix offense has been this season—they are the second worst offense in the league this season—their inability to get the disc back is baffling.

Philadelphia is allowing opponents to score on 65% off all break chances, the worst number in the league by a good margin. When controlling for end of quarter turns or buzzer beater scenarios, that number jumps to 78%. That level of opponent defensive production is baffling, and not in line with their performance in other games. Boston has the second best DLC% in the league, but without their pristine performances against the Hotbirds they would be closer to the middle of the pack.

There is not a clear explanation as to why Philly has been so bad at earning the disc back. Many of the players on the o-line are no longer top tier defenseman, but even a semblance of pressure should be enough to force some turnovers from opposing d-lines. The best offenses in the league only convert 75% of their chances, meaning it is just as likely that a defense will score against Philadelphia as it is that the best offense in the league will score on a given possession.

Philly has started 5 different o-lines in 6 games, and have cobbled together lines during the game when those starters have proved unable to score. At this point, their ability to score is fundamentally broken, and tinkering with the line is unlikely to provide the magic fix. There are four radical options that Philadelphia could utilize going forward:

  1. Pick your favorite offensive players and have them spend all of practice on defense. Last year's starting o-line of Calvin, Alex, Dima, Jordan, Greg, Mott, and James Pollard has been as effective as anything else, and if they could get the disc back after turning it they would at least provide some measure of improved results. This offense would not be good, but at least we could stop trying to figure out what is going on from a roster construction standpoint.

  2. Play the kids. I’d give it one more game at this point, the Phoenix are still very much in the hunt for the playoffs, but this is conceding this season to focus on potential future growth. Play Michael Maroon and Peter Cauchy. Keep Scott Heyman on the offense despite his drop plagued opening game. Call Mark Gazzero and Matt Krauss off the practice squad. Move Nate Little over to O. The season’s over, but all of these players have the talent ceiling to become foundational offensive players in the future.

  3. Play the completion line. At this point in the season five Phoenix players have a 100% completion rate and 3 others are above 98%, in order Brandon Pastor, David Perry, Eric Nardelli, Mark Philipson, Scott Heyman, Dmitry Suvorov, Greg Martin, and Kainoa Chun-Moy. If you never turn it over, who cares that you can’t get it back. I’m not sure if this offense would be very good, but it would at least be a radically different approach to the team's current model of throwing the disc into the ground.

  4. Play the tall line, throw every disc to the endzone. Philadelphia’s best offense this year has been last second jump balls to James Pollard, Greg Martin, Max Trifillis, and Nate Little. The team has one of the higher completion rates in the league and still cannot score. Instead of throwing lots of little passes and turning the disc over, why not throw one big pass and turn the disc over. Even if the Phoenix turn it over half of the time, and score the other half of the time, dropping our completion rate to 50%, it would still be a more effective offense than the current approach.

I would like to shout out the spectacular Phoenix highlight: Matt Hanna’s third quarter callahan. Hanna blanketed Sunde in the reset space after a good pull by James Pollard pinned Boston’s offense in their own endzone. Without a good window for the throw, Ned Dick tossed what he could to Sunde, and Matt Hanna caught the disc for the goal. It was the peak point for a defense that played pretty well over all, albeit against a team missing their highest usage player in Ben Sadok.

If Philadelphia’s offense can transition from no scores to some scores, it will give the defense more opportunities to convert on highlight reel plays like that callahan from Matt Hanna. It is time to radically overhaul the offensive line, or completely transition away from the offensive playsheet, and give the d the chance to grow. Philly is still in a great position to make the playoffs, provided they can defeat the New York Empire this upcoming weekend. A task that may have seemed far fetched at the beginning of the season, New York is 4-3 with games against Salt Lake, Minnesota, and DC still remaining on their schedule. New York will be underdogs in all of those games. If the Phoenix can defeat the Empire at home, and take care of business against Canada and Pittsburgh, they have a very good shot of ending at 6-6, while the Empire finish 5-7. If they lose to New York… well… play the kids!