Denver Outlaws rookie Brennan O'Neill

How Outlaws should reshape their offense around Brennan O’Neill

By Topher Adams | Jun 14, 2024

The Denver Outlaws entered the 2024 season with a blank slate on offense. After the Chrome had the worst offense in the league last season, Denver entered this year with a half-dozen new players and a fresh identity.

Two games in, things are heading in the right direction. Opening Weekend was a bit disjointed, but 11 goals would’ve been the third-best output for the team a year ago. In Week 2, the offense exploded behind rookie sensation Brennan O’Neill in an 18-17 overtime win.

With the Outlaws entering their bye week -- and a league-wide bye week to come right after -- it’s a good time to reset and take stock of Denver’s offensive personnel, performance and what to do next.

The one thing that can be said with absolute certainty is that everything should run through O’Neill. His fourth-quarter display against the Utah Archers showed the world what an O’Neill-led offense can look like.

The Attack

Moving forward, O’Neill is the centerpiece, and he should be starting at attack. While he always attacks the same areas as a midfielder or attackman, keeping him on the field gets him the ball more often and in more unsettled situations.

O’Neill scored four of his seven goals against Utah either off of a faceoff win or in transition. Running him out of the box loses that edge in early offense.

Even with O’Neill at attack, Logan Wisnauskas should be starting down low, as well. The 2022 Tewaaraton winner scored a hat trick in the season opener, but he missed the game against Utah with a hamstring injury.

Fitting O’Neill and Wisnauskas together on an attack line may be a bit tricky and could force Denver to adjust its offensive system, but to paraphrase analyst Ryan Boyle: Don’t leave goals on the sideline.

“They're just going to gravitate to the same spots that they have been,” Denver head coach Tim Soudan said. “As long as those guys aren't getting in each other's way, we should be fine.”

The third attack spot comes down to a pair of young attackmen who’ve played well through two games: Josh Zawada and Jack Myers.

Myers impressed against the Archers with a hat trick and an assist in the win. He’s operated as a true X attackman, dodging to score and feed from directly behind the cage.

Zawada started each of the first two games on the right wing, providing a little bit of everything for Denver. He’s third in rookie scoring with six points (3G, 3A). Like Myers, he played especially well against Utah with a five-point outing.

When everyone is healthy, an attack line of O’Neill-Wisnauskas-Zawada makes a lot of sense. O’Neill sweeps or moves up to the high wing, allowing Wisnauskas to move from X to the low wing where he’s one of the best finishers in the world. Zawada brings right-handed balance and can attack from behind or above the cage.

The Midfield

In settled sets, Cross Ferrara can provide an additional scoring presence on the right wing running through the box. The second-year pro has three assists in two games, and he makes a lot of positive plays even when the stats aren’t gaudy.

This allows Myers to be a secondary initiator as a midfielder. He can use his skills to invert against short-stick matchups and reset settled defenses. 

Denver also has three true midfielders in Justin Anderson, Sam Handley and Graham Bundy Jr. All three bring a slightly different element to the Outlaws offense, and all three have had moments through two weeks. 

Handley is probably the best pure dodger of the midfield, and he’s been a better passer and shooter so far this season. Bundy brings pure electricity and a dynamite outside shot to the mix that Denver doesn’t have anywhere else.

Anderson has played more of a two-way role to start this season, but Soudan said he expects the fourth-year veteran to play more as a true offensive midfielder moving forward. He will still contribute off of faceoff wings to drive early offense, though, Soudan said.

A midfield of Ferrara-Handley-Bundy with Myers and Anderson rotating in makes sense to provide the most balance and dynamism to Denver’s attack.