Photos courtesy of PLL and Devin Manky / Jersey swap by Neil Barrett
Connor Fields’s NLL film foreshadows how he will be utilized in the Archers pairs offense
Heading into the 2020 PLL Championship Series, very few could have predicted that Connor Fields wouldn’t factor into a Chaos LC playoff run, let alone that the team’s former star would be the top player on the trade block at the end of the season. Yet, the Chaos eventually parted ways with Fields, shipping him to Archers LC—a team already loaded with offensive talent. Consider the following career trajectory:
- Former MVP finalist
- Struggling quarterback leading a dysfunctional offense (plagued by turnovers)
- Put on the trade block
- Receives a fresh start with a new team and tempered expectations
Chaos LC and/or Philadelphia Eagles fans may have an idea of where I’m heading with this…
Both Connor Fields and Carson Wentz have experienced similar career arcs. Albeit, Wentz’s demise was far more drastic and over a longer period. Wentz was objectively terrible this past season — he seemingly forgot how to play football. I don’t believe this to be the case with Connor Fields. I think he was miscast in the Chaos offense, and the turnovers finally caught up to him.
Reclamation projects like Wentz are common in the NFL and NBA. Teams who trust their ability to develop and get the most out of their players will take chances on former high draft picks who have not panned out (think Ryan Tannehill and Markelle Fultz). These teams can acquire “damaged assets” at a lower price than their talent probably warrants — largely because of recency bias. Due to familiarity with the coaching staff, the consensus is that the environment in Indianapolis will be conducive to Wentz — increasing the chances for a resurgence. Similarly, I would imagine that the Archers have an explicit plan for how they will deploy Fields.
I’m not going to get into the whole “Who won the trade?” discussion — as it isn’t within the scope of the article. But I will say, as outsiders, we don’t know much about the liquidity of the PLL trade market. However, I am going to speculate that the market for Fields was tepid.
I, for one, am excited about the PLL’s first high-profile reclamation project.
A Fresh, Yet Familiar Start for Fields
It only takes a few clips from his season highlights to get a feel for how the Chaos utilized Fields. He dominated possession — using laborious isolation dodges initiated from below GLE against #1 cover defensemen.
This will not be the case as a member of the Archers. There is an impending dilemma for their opponents. Joe Keegan explains it concisely:
Initially, I anticipate that opposing teams will assign poles to Ament, Holman, Manny, and Schreiber. Fields will be an auxiliary player in the Archers high octane offense — rather than the ball-dominant, high usage player he was as a member of the Chaos.
PLL fans, get ready to see Fields utilized above the cage while guarded by short-sticks — something field lacrosse fans haven’t seen since his freshman year at Albany when he flanked Lyle Thompson and Seth Oakes. Instead of scouring the internet for 2015 Great Danes film, we can look indoors to get an idea of what Fields will bring to the Archers pairs offense. Technically, a box forward is always shadowed by a short-stick and is usually above the goal line — so this makes sense. Let’s dive into the film from Fields’ rookie-of-the-year finalist season with the San Diego Seals.
How Box Lacrosse Prepares Fields for the Archers Offense
Fields’s game was crafted playing box lacrosse. The dual citizen — who grew up about 25 miles east of the Canadian border — has an extensive background playing indoors. And it jumps off the screen when you watch him play. This leads me to believe that dodging from X is not where Fields can make the greatest impact. Box-first players generally are not as comfortable operating below GLE with their heads toward the midline. This is why you rarely see Canadians filling the role of the “X attack.”
As a passer, Fields — like most Canadians — is much better at processing the field when he’s moving from sideline to sideline. This east-west movement from above GLE — rather than north-south — will allow Fields to survey the field and feed in a way that we didn’t see with the Chaos.
PLL fans are very familiar with Fields’ signature backhand shot. But they will get to know his flip pass very soon. Because he was often below GLE with his former squad, PLL fans rarely got to witness the flip pass that NLL diehards enjoy.
I’m fired up to see ARC5 reach into his bag of tricks when the defense forces him down the alley in the pairs offense.
Ryan Ambler, Will Manny, Tom Schreiber… you’re going to enjoy being on the receiving end of these.
Cue the flip pass montage…
The threat of the flip pass out of the Archers’ 1-4-1 pairs set will put opposing defenders in a bind.
SD5/ARC5 has a counter for when defenders begin to gameplan for the flip pass. Fields can sell the flip, turn his defender around, and take it to the net himself.
I’m looking forward to seeing if the Archers employ Fields as a picker. He was not a frequent screen-setter in his first year in the NLL — 0.08 pick assists per 20 minutes. However, the caveat is that setting picks in box lacrosse is much more contingent on brute strength. With the Archers, Fields can use his innate knowledge of the two-man game to set cleverly angled screens.
Fields can still utilize his prolific one-on-one ability as an Archer — only, less frequently. He’ll need to be more selective.
Here are a few Fields isolation goals of the indoor variety.
SD5 attacks Kyle Rubisch (the four-time DPOTY) and scores off a fadeaway shot.
Fields’ ability to win isolated matchups remains a valuable skill — specifically in both early and late shot clock situations. Unsettled, early shot clock situations are ideal for isolation dodge attempts because the defense is substituting and slides are not established (5v5, 4v5, 4v4) — like in the clip below. Late in the shot clock works as a low-risk hail mary action. This is advantageous when the settled offense has become stagnant and offensive middies are heading to the substitution box.
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