Carolina Chaos attackman Jules Heningburg

Film Study: How Chaos’ Jules Heningburg quarterbacks an offense

By Hayden Lewis | May 30, 2024

Jules Heningburg started his professional lacrosse career at attack. But after his former team, the Redwoods, traded for Rob Pannell, Heningburg saw his minutes at his natural position slip away and was forced to the midfield.

As a midfielder, Heningburg wasn’t able to command an offense like he could in his early career, and his production dipped. 

So, after Heningburg’s contract with California expired in the offseason, he made it a goal to return to attack for whatever team he signed with. He wound up latching on with the Carolina Chaos, who plan to play him at his preferred spot. 

A key to Heningburg’s game during the PLL’s inaugural season in 2019 -- when he scored 33 points and made his first of three All-Star teams -- was his patience and excellent decision-making with the ball. 

Rather than forcing a play from below goal line extended, Heningburg stays calm with the ball in his crosse and lulls the defense to sleep with his casual possession. Heningburg’s ability to maintain composure opens up a look for Sergio Salcido, who did all the work in this set by winning his one-on-one matchup and earning a free look out front. 

Actively, Heningburg did very little, but his ability to put a pass in a teammate’s crosse in a tight window while simultaneously pulling five defenders out of the play is an underrated positive quality of his when playing attack, making him an excellent QB on the field. 

When opposing defenses scout Heningburg, the first thing they have to factor is his ability to win matchups off the dodge. 

In this clip, Heningburg initiates from the lower right wing – a place where Chaos fans should expect to see Heningburg this season – and pulls out some showstopping moves en route to a dazzling crease dive goal. 

What stands out here in this clip is the body control Heningburg showcases in a few places. With around 10 seconds left on the clock in the third quarter, Heningburg takes a few steps toward his defender to signify he’s ready to start the offensive rep. The left-footed jab step opens up the split dodge from left to right, forcing the defender to react and extend out so Heningburg can’t fire a pass to a teammate.

Heningburg feels the overcommitment to the topside of the field and swiftly rolls away from the defender to work underneath and open the crease dive look. 

At a macro level, the play seems routine and nonchalant for Heningburg, who scores many dazzling goals. However, at a micro level, Heningburg’s ability to make excellent decisions in crunch time with the clock fading makes him special. 

All great quarterbacks need to create for their star players, but they also need to know when to call their shots, and Heningburg does a great job at ringing his own number. 

Although Heningburg makes some great decisions as a ball-handler, he’s still human and exhibits negative moments as a ball-carrier. Heningburg has averaged about 14 turnovers per season in his professional career, with the higher totals coming when playing attack. 

Last season, Heningburg averaged 1.3 turnovers per 18.4 touches. Around 7% of Heningburg’s touches resulted in turnovers, a great number. Translating that number from the midfield back to attack will be important. 

At attack, Heningburg has had games with zero turnovers and as many as six. He needs to level those numbers out at the attack position if he wants to stay there. The task is feasible for the 28-year-old, who has years of experience in the league. 

This clip sums up what Heningburg can bring to an offense:

Heningburg starts as a screener, then realizes the open space is where he is standing because the help is coming from his defender. So, he waits in his spot before receiving a pass, uses his 6-foot-2 frame to muscle his defender to the turf on the bull dodge, then rolls inside and buries from a step off the crease after a mean fake. 

In broader terms, Heningburg starts the play by being a great teammate doing the hard task of setting a pick, then showcases his lacrosse IQ by staying in place and waiting for the ball to come back to him in the open space. When Heningburg receives the ball back in the two-man game, he uses his size to create a look before scoring. 

Acquiring a veteran player who could create offense from anywhere was paramount when Chaos head coach and general manager Andy Towers began etching out his new offensive blueprint. Snatching a veteran like Heningburg early in the offseason accomplished that goal and then some, allowing Towers’ plan to take effect. 

On the Chaos, Heningburg can become a general down low, maintaining the composure of his team by making smart veteran decisions with the ball, and he can reignite his old game by returning to his natural position. 

Worst-case scenario, the Chaos picked up a veteran midfielder/attackman with elite offensive talent and the ability to provide depth scoring to a lineup that lacked in that department last year.

In the best-case scenario, Carolina will be able to unlock the 2019 Jules Heningburg offensive quarterback with more experience and focus on winning a championship during his one-year contract, bearing fruit from the tree Towers planted when molding his new offense.