May 12, 2022
By Adam Ruffner
25. Detroit Mechanix (Previously 25th)
It was the 52nd consecutive defeat for Detroit, but the Mechanix did have a silver lining from Saturday night’s 11-goal loss, as Joe Cubitt set the AUDL single-game throwing yards record with 947 yards on 80 completions. And with 1064 total yards on the game, Cubitt became the first player to join the 1,000-yard club this season; Nick Boucher and Austin Taylor had 1,000-plus yard games in 2021. The Mechanix have a bye in Week 3 before beginning a three-game homestand in Detroit, which might be the team’s best opportunity for breaking the cursed streak.
24. Tampa Bay Cannons (Previously 24th)
Holding the reigning champs to just 19 goals—and generating 10 blocks of their own— was an impressive defensive effort for the Cannons in their home opener. But with just 25 goals in the first two games of the season, Tampa Bay sits dead last in scores per game. Michael Arbutine made his 2022 debut and showcased a visibly developed throwing repertoire, giving the Cannons some much needed throwing depth; Arbutine’s 21 completions on Saturday nearly halved the 57 total completions he had in 12 games in 2021. Brandon Perales remains potent from anywhere on the field with the disc, but there is a discernible lack of pop from this year’s Cannons’ team compared with prior years.
23. Toronto Rush (Previously 22nd)
With the Rush set to face the huck-happy Ottawa offense this weekend, Toronto will need a big game from their deep space guardian Phil Turner. Now in his fourth pro season, Turner led all AUDL players in 2021 in blocks per game, and has already logged a three-block performance against Montreal in Week 1 this year. And in his last matchup against the Outlaws, Turner had a career game on the counterattack, finishing with career highs in goals (3) and receiving yards (224). Toronto will need more of the same in Week 3 after converting a woeful 9.5 percent of their break opportunities in their season opening loss.
22. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (Previously 23rd)
It took no time for Thomas Edmonds to make an impact in his return with the Thunderbirds, notching the team’s first three goals of the game—including a full speed layout in the open field—on his way to finishing with five scores and 532 total yards of offense with no turnovers. Pittsburgh went down by as many as five goals on a few occasions throughout their game in Madison, but the T-Birds continually narrowed the gap throughout the second half despite ultimately losing on the road. The Thunderbirds offense wasn’t always efficient against the Radicals and their zone looks, but Pittsburgh found ways to punch in scores thanks to the backfield presence of Ian Engler. The real culprit for the loss has to be the team’s inefficiency in the red zone, as the Thunderbirds converted just 66 percent of their opportunities in Week 2.
21. Oakland Spiders (Previously 21st)
Even in the loss to San Diego, the Spiders showed an ability to adapt to the elements better than their opponents for stretches at a time in a close two-goal game. And his eight throwaways aside, veteran thrower Justin Norden remains one of the most capable offensive anchor pieces in the West Division, finishing with a game-high 650 total yards that nearly doubled the second highest player’s total on either squad. When in range of the end zone, Norden’s hammer becomes a scalpel, even in the heavy wind. And Keenan Laurence’s continual progression as a WR1 makes this Oakland team a tough underdog every week.
20. Seattle Cascades (Previously 18th)
Without main throwers Adam Simon and Manny Eckert in the Week 2 lineup, the Seattle offense struggled to initiate the deep game that made them so spicy in Week 1 in Portland. Four different Cascades players finished with three or more throwaways, contributing to a team total of 30; Seattle is 21st in the league this season in turnovers per game. Drew Swanson made his Scades debut with two D-line scores—including a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter on Saturday and make it a three-goal game—but failed to record a takeaway for just the fourth time in 23 career games.
19. Indianapolis AlleyCats (Previously 19th)
Keegan North wasted no time in his return to the ‘Cats offense, registering team bests in scores (14), assists (9), and total yards (931) while averaging 34 yards per touch as Indy hung 33 on Detroit, a 2022 AUDL single-game high. As a whole, the AlleyCats O-line played nearly flawlessly at home indoors, completing 18-of-20 hucks and converting on all 15 of their red zone opportunities. The Mechanix were allowed just five break opportunities the entire night, which gave the visiting team no chance at catching Indy’s scorching offensive pace. Now we get the fire-vs-ice matchup of the week as the ‘Cats host the Radicals and their imposing defense in Week 3.
18. Philadelphia Phoenix (Previously 16th)
The Phoenix played some of the best deep defense on New York of any team over the past two seasons, limiting Ben Jagt, Ryan Osgar, and John Lithio to just seven goals combined, and holding the Empire to just 17 on the night. There’s a weird inversion that took place from Week 1 to Week 2 with Philly, though, as their offensive and defensive rotations seemingly traded mojo; after giving up 25 to Boston on opening weekend, the Phoenix went toe-to-toe with a championship-level offense in New York; Philly’s offense, absent Jordan Rhyne and with Brice Dunn playing defense, eked out just 15 goals in Week 2 after connecting on almost as many deep hucks alone in Boston. Now the Phoenix have their home opener against Montreal on Friday night in what could be a turning point for Philly if they want to remain playoff competitive.
17. Los Angeles Aviators (Previously 17th)
Similar spot as last season for LA as they look to get their first win of the year against their most familiar foes from San Diego. The Aviators will be without rising star KJ Koo, who had one of the most interesting box scores from Week 1, finishing with seven scores, 417 total yards, one turnover, and two blocks, including a Callahan. Sam Cook, Marcel Osborne, and Matt Miller could pick up some of the slack on offense, but LA is going to need a big team performance to pull off the upset on the road against the Growlers.
16. Boston Glory (Previously 12th)
Boston didn’t crack 20 goals in either game and committed 53 turnovers up in Canada as Glory went 0-2 on their first road trip of the season, losing two games that may come back to haunt them later in the season when head-to-head tiebreakers come into play. And without Orion Cable and Tannor Johnson in the lineup, it would make sense that Glory would have some struggles offensively missing their top two targets. What didn’t make sense was that the team still attempted 39 hucks in two games, punting away numerous drives and finishing the weekend just 28-of-63 (44 percent) on offensive holds. Boston’s Week 3 matchup at home with New York is about as “must win” as a game can get this early in the season.
15. Ottawa Outlaws (Previously 20th)
It wasn’t the cleanest win—Ottawa converted under 50 percent of their 32 offensive hold opportunities in their home opener—but the Outlaws got their 2022 season started with a big dub. Nick Boucher continues to be one of the most productive high-volume throwers in the AUDL, and Geoff Bevan gives the Outlaws the most underrated throwing tandem in the East, if not the league at large. David Colic had five goals and averaged over 30 yards per touch, providing a consistent target in deep space for Boucher and Bevan bombs. The success of Ottawa will hinge on their defense, as it did last Friday. The Outlaws defense was pesky and always pressuring, coming up with 12 blocks against Boston. The difference for Ottawa’s D-line this year over prior years is their ability to convert break chances, and the Outlaws did so adeptly in their win, punching in six counterattacks.
14. Dallas Legion (Previously 15th)
Team captain Ben Lewis will be making his season debut tomorrow night in Austin, and it couldn’t come at a better time for a Dallas team still struggling with a raft of injuries. Lewis finished with a career-high 29 goals in 2021, and he could develop a dangerous option for Jimmy Zuraw’s throws downfield if the Legion decide to use Lewis on offense. Dallas showed they are still a bunch of big bodies that can make plays in space in Week 1, but what they need to develop quickly is throwing depth and precision.
13. Madison Radicals (Previously 14th)
The Radicals and their new-look offense were as advertised in the first half on Saturday night at home. Victor Luo provided the lightning to Kai Marcus’s thunder in the Madison backfield as the team converted 7-of-10 offensive holds and showcased a formidable deep game on their way to scoring 11 first half goals. But by the end of the game, the Radicals offensive woes of the past two seasons—inconsistency and forced huck attempts—became visible once again, as Madison finished just 12-of-26 on offensive holds; the Radicals defense, same as 2021, converted at a higher rate than their offense, a troubling index for any O-line. Madison will get a great chance to find their rhythm in the friendly confines of Indy’s indoor stadium this Saturday night.
12. Montreal Royal (Previously 13th)
Montreal took care of business in their first two weeks, and now prepare for a Week 3 road trip that will be instrumental for the Royal’s chances at returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. And without Vincent Lemieux in the lineup, 21-year-old Jakob Brissette has emerged as the team’s clear-cut quarterback, with his 948 throwing yards easily doubling the next highest teammate’s total through two games. And while the team absolutely misses Lemieux’s throwing ability, his absence has given Nabil Chaouch more opportunities with the disc. Normally a strict receiver, Chaouch responded to his bigger role on Saturday versus Boston with three assists and 212 throwing yards to go along with three goals and 242 receiving yards; Chaouch had never broken 100 throwing yards in a game before Week 2.
11. Austin Sol (Previously 11th)
If Austin does become a playoff team this season, it might be because of Kyle Henke transforming into the All-AUDL level player he’s shown glimpses of since entering the league in 2017. We—or at least I did—took for granted the level at which Henke was playing at in 2021 with a cast on his dominant throwing-and-catching hand. And now fully healthy and back with Austin, Henke appears ready to make a leap. For all his playmaking and scoring numbers over the past few seasons, Henke has struggled at times with turnovers. But in Austin’s Week 1 win, Henke had just one throwaway compared to 29 touches, six scores, and nearly 500 yards of total offense. An uber-efficient, uptempo Henke would be difficult for any defense to handle in the South.
10. Minnesota Wind Chill (Previously 5th)
After winning the first quarter, the Wind Chill were outrun and out-executed in the wind by the Union over the next three frames as Minnesota dropped their home opener 24-21. Quinn Snider had a huge day in his first game with the team since 2019, finishing with eight scores and over 300 yards of total offense. But as a team Minnesota struggled to adapt in-game to the Union’s defensive pressure, surrendering 25 turnovers in the wind and converting just 13-of-18 red zone opportunities. The Wind Chill visibly missed the handling abilities of Andrew Roy, who will be active this weekend as the team travels to Dallas on Saturday night in a quirky interdivisional meeting with the Legion.
9. San Diego Growlers (Previously 8th)
In a game with 60 combined turnovers from both teams, the Growlers picked a bigger stone in Saturday night’s rock fight in Oakland and made just enough of their red zone opportunities to pull out the 18-16 road win. San Diego started slow last season, too, before going on to finish with 10 regular season wins. Goose Helton had just one turnover in the Week 2 wind, and is averaging nearly 400 yards per game at 38 years old. San Diego hosting LA this weekend feels like a tonesetter game for a Growlers team suddenly surrounded by expansion team talent.
8. Portland Nitro (Previously 7th)
Nitro games are becoming must-see television for their deep attack, highlight-heavy style of play, with Leandro Marx, Daniel Lee, Eli Friedman, and Jake Johnson all making huge plays for Portland last Sunday. But a late game downpour shut down Portland’s preferred style of play, holding the Nitro to just 18-of-31 (58 percent) on their offensive holds in their loss to Colorado. The Nitro’s love for the longball revealed its limitations, as the team had just nine red zone opportunities the entire game. It’s a big “what if?” game for Portland against a Summit team that figures to be a longstanding rival.
7. Chicago Union (Previously 9th)
Chicago had one of the most complete team performances of the young season in their huge road win against the Wind Chill. Minnesota came prepared defensively to take away what the Union like to do on offense, but Chicago continually showed an ability to adjust to the Wind Chill’s double teams and trap schemes. Pawel Janas finished with six throwaways, his most in a game since his rookie season in 2017. But it was offset by his ability to fearlessly attack and distribute against a tough Minnesota defense, and get the disc into favorable positions for his teammates; nobody else on the Union had more than a single turnover as Chicago scored 24 goals against a Wind Chill defense that was third in scores against last season; Janas finished with 10 hockey assists, which is nearly a single-game AUDL record.
6. Colorado Summit (Previously 10th)
Despite looking rough around the edges in their first win on Saturday, the Summit closing out the weekend with a gritty double overtime win over a talented Nitro squad shows why this Colorado expansion team was so highly regarded entering the season. They have playmakers on both sides of the disc, a young core out to prove themselves, and a backfield anchored by Jonathan Nethercutt and Jay Froude, two of the most established stars in the league over the past five seasons. And while Mathieu Agee’s huge layout goal against Seattle made SportsCenter, the play of the weekend—and the one that embodied why this Summit team could be a contender in year one—was Cody Spicer’s upline block in sudden death. The offensive ability of this team was never really in question, but if they can dog teams on defense when it matters, they will be fierce.
5. Salt Lake Shred (Previously 6th)
And yet, for as impressive as Colorado’s debut weekend was in Week 2, the Shred’s own 2-0 road trip still stands just a notch above the Summit. Salt Lake gets Seattle at home this Friday, then a bye, then they travel to Colorado to face the Summit on May 28 in a first-ever meeting between the two expansion teams for what might be first place in the West Division. That matchup will be the final road game for the Shred until July. This team will absolutely focus on one game at a time, but it’s impossible not to see how favorably Salt Lake’s schedule skews out if they can get wins in their next two games and improve to 4-0 in a contentious division.
4. Atlanta Hustle (Previously 4th)
Atlanta is in the middle of a two-week bye, which could be much needed for a team lacking preseason reps and integrating a variety of new pieces. One not-so-new piece that continues to emerge as a leading playmaker is JP Burns. The 29-year-old veteran defender has been making more waves as a playmaker with the disc, particularly as a thrower. Burns finished 2022 opening weekend third on the team in assists with four, and averaged nearly 12 yards per completion while committing only one throwaway. In 2018, Burns finished with 31 goals splitting time evenly between offense and defense. With so many adaptable pieces in the 2022 Hustle lineup, Burns could see more hybrid play.
3. DC Breeze (Previously 3rd)
The Breeze got two whole weeks to prepare for hosting a Royal team this Saturday that will be playing its second game in as many days, which doesn’t bode well for Montreal. Add in the 2022 debut of All-AUDL handler Jonny Malks, and it could be a big game for a DC team looking to avenge their Week 1 loss to New York. In particular, Christian Boxley quietly finished with five scores and nearly 400 yards of offense against the Empire, and could be primed for a breakout game in Week 3.
2. Carolina Flyers (Previously 2nd)
After two games, Anders Juengst leads or is tied for the team lead in assists (6), goals (7), and blocks (3), is second in completions (53), fourth in total yards (538), and has just one turnover. And though the Flyers offense was a little more wily with their deep looks minus the backfield presence of Matt Gouchoe-Hanas in Week 2, Carolina still executed where it mattered, converting 10-of-11 red zone opportunities in Tampa Bay. And with just 27 goals allowed so far in 2022, the emerging question becomes: Can anyone score more than 20 on this talented and deep Flyers defense?
1. New York Empire (Previously 1st)
A week after displaying one of the most efficient offensive performances in recent memory, the Empire offense was limited by wetness and a good Philly gameplan to just 17 goals in their Week 2 win. But even in those conditions, Jack Williams had one of his most complete games as a pro, tallying six scores and three blocks while racking up 356 yards of total offense without a turnover. Williams was kryptonite for Boston in their matchups last season, and could be the deciding factor for the Empire yet again in Saturday’s “AUDL Game Of The Week”.
Follow Adam Ruffner on Twitter.