Of course, this bottom four comes with asterisks.
The Atlas limped into the post season after a 4-1 start and lost to the eventual PLL champs in the opening round.
The Chrome finished the regular season with the second best record but we immediately and totally bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Chaos.
The Redwoods and Cannons make up the true bottom after not being able to replicate the Chaos post season magic or actually qualify for the playoffs.
The Green Bears kicked off the 2022 season with a 1-4 record including a 12-3 lost to the Chrome in Week 2.
The Cannons of course only won one game this year. Oddly enough, they were able to defeat the 2022 champs in the opening week of the season.
Now, let’s consider one reason for optimism and one reason for pessimism for these clubs.
Hope: Perhaps a different first round match up and the Knights, who had arguably the top attack unit in the PLL this summer, advance to the semifinals. How much better can the trio of Molloy, Nichtern, and Wisnauskus be after a season’s worth of chemistry building? Depending upon your preference, they have the top defensive middie, Ryan Terefenko, and cover guy, JT Giles-Harris, both clocking in at 24 years old. We said all season the Chrome reminded us of the 2021 Atlas. This group needed to figure out how to be the hunter. The Atlas obviously weren’t ready to make that leap in 2022, but Chrome, led by veteran coach Tim Soudan could be in 2023.
Despair: See our previous PLL article on title windows closing sooner than you think. Jesse Bernhardt is 32, Jordan MacIntosh is 33, and Mike Manley is 34. While their offense may be able to sustain a drop in production thanks to the aforementioned youth movement at attack, what happens if one or both starting poles show signs of aging?
Hope: After two PLL campaigns shooting 28% and 29%, Bryan Costabile wrapped 2022 with a 17% performance. Slightly better in one game and the Bulls have a different first round opponent. Let’s assume 2022 is a down year and he returns to form in 2023. Daniel Bucaro’s contract is up. Bring him back and let him run with Dox Aiken and Costabile again. Is that not the best midfield in the league if all three are dialed in? Bucaro and Aiken were a combined 1 for 24 over the final three games of the season. The Bulls went 1-2 during the stretch. They lost both games decidedly but if one of those shots fall early in the game perhaps the outcome changes. You have to believe that doesn’t happen again.
Despair: The Bulls finished 2022 on a 2-4 run. Baptiste wasn’t available for the Redwoods game, which they still should have won. It was only the second win of the season for the Woods. Terrible late game management resulted in an overtime loss to the Waterdogs. They were blitzed by the Whips 16-8. They were trailing the Dogs 18-7 early in the fourth quarter of their playoff game. When you consider Baptiste’s brilliant season, shouldn’t the defense have been able to get a couple more stops? Tucker Durkin is 32. Baptiste is still nursing an injury that prevented him from competing this past weekend for Team USA. He will once again play in the NLL this winter. Why couldn’t the Bulls replicate their 4-1 start? Is there an immediate solution in the draft or do they simply hope the young core is better with another year of experience?
Hope: Not much. TD Ierlan might be returning to his Denver/Yale form after an impressive weekend at the USA training camp. Unfortunately, neither Baptiste and Farrell were competing.
Despair: Did you ever check the Redwoods Twitter community during a summer weekend?
We’re not sure if any other team has a Twitter community but this a frustrated fan base. The offense feels like they should be better given the star power, but rarely have the stars ever been rolling at the same time. Pannell is 32 years old and while still putting up all star numbers hasn’t had a winning season in the PLL to date. The last team he was a member of a winning team was 2018. Tim Troutner lost his job to Jack Kelly who wasn’t much better.
Hope: The record is a little deceiving. The Cannons lost one goal games to the Chrome and Waterdogs. They lost three games by two goals. Are they best one win team in PLL history? Trivia question, who is the other PLL to finish with only one win? Lyle Thompson is still on the roster. Many pieces of their core are in their early professional days.
Despair: They need to improve in many if not all areas. It will have to be through free agency as the 2023 incoming class is not as strong as the 2022 group and they lost some capital from the Rabil trade. Lyle is 30 and will be coming off another NLL season.