I'm skipping the Doublewide game for two reasons. First, the film was terrible. It jumped and skipped often and made it difficult to watch. Second, the effort put forth by DW was not impressive. They looked lazy and uninterested. I hear it was stupid hot for the game so that probably played into it. All the same DW lost despite what looked like a terrible performance by NexGen. Dylan had something like 3 drops which is remarkably uncharacteristic.
But with that game behind them NexGen took on Atlanta's Chain Lightning to hopefully go over .500 for the first time this season. Unfortunately they ran into a Chain team that had a solid game plan and just had a good game from its rookies. (Note: I am a biased commentator here since I am from Atlanta, have worked with Chain in the past and was at this game).
I have already written about NexGen's defensive strategies. But Chain wins this game on the back of stellar hucks and a well communicated defensive scheme. Normally NexGen is able to keep defenses on their toes by attacking forward. They commonly run an open side reset and go (what is being called the Beau-and-go by Mario in the Revolver commentary). Straight up man defenses struggle with this play because it requires the mark to be incredibly mindful and then also as fast as the person they are defending. Both of those are hard to accomplish this early in the season against college players still close to prime after Nationals. The first video shows how NexGen uses this strategy. Here Chris Kocher (NexGen #7) and Simon Montague (NexGen #8) run it by Chris throwing to the open side reset and immediately cutting to the far side for the give and go.
This is a hallmark of their offense, run best when Dylan is playing the role that Kocher is playing. They ran this play 11 times during this game. Chain was playing a team defense that reduced the efficiency of that play. In the following video you can see the play shut down in the same way a good pick and roll can be squashed on the basketball court, by switching.
In this case Byron (Chain #8) was the original mark and as Simon threw to Dylan in the center of the field Byron and Jared (Chain #13) perform an easy switch to neutralize the give and go. This doesn't eliminate the benefit of the play. Dylan correctly responds by throwing around the switch to the break side. This reversal is still very useful, but isn't what NexGen wants to do and doesn't facilitate offense for them in the same way. NexGen is at its best when they can run downhill, get the disc in power position and huck it to speed (see their first point against Ring last night and the first point after a timeout in this game). By taking the reverse option rather than the desired give and go they are getting the disc in the hands of weaker throwers going the wrong direction. This is a win for Chain even if it isn't directly a turn.
Back to some numbers. NexGen ran the Beau-and-go six times in the first half with it being successful four of those times. In the second half they ran it five times but only successfully twice. This was the result of better defensive switching in the second half by Chain.
Chain's team defense slowed The Bus down on set plays as well. In the next video Arenson and Snow (defenders at ~30 yard line) handle switches after a time out to prevent NexGen's timeout play. The result is a hammer to the breakside and a whole lot of effort put in for the NexGen squad. While these switches and defensive sets didn't produce direct turns (only one coverage sack on good reset defense by Mark Poole) it did require effort for NexGen to overcome.
So what does all this mean? NexGen is a team that likes to attack the break space, likes to run give and goes to get to the power position and then huck it. Chain implemented a defense that slowed the first two down and coupled that with a solid possession game to win a close one. It is easy to look at the score (15-12) and forget that it was 12s at one point. But a sound team defense was the adjustment that made a difference in an otherwise close game. Here are the numbers:
The huck percentages work out to 57% and 58% for NexGen and Chain respectively. We all know that Chain likes the long ball, even from a stopped disc (twice in this game if I recall). Neither of these are percentages that I think are very good, but are to be expected with teams that throw a high number of huck attempts (14 for NexGen and 12 for Chain).
Both teams hit a variety of receivers on their hucks (5 for NexGen and 6 for Chain) so it wasn't the same match up over and over.
Four Chain rookies caught hucks and 5 scored goals.
Chain forced only one coverage sack while NexGen forced two.
Thanks again to NexGen for getting this video out quickly and in high quality.