After Spherical 6, the AFL panorama was taking form, but it surely’s been seven rounds since then, so it solely is sensible that the state of affairs has modified as we head into the post-bye run.
First, the dangerous – AFL journalism (worse than ever), the bye rounds (six video games and nonetheless enjoying on Thursday night time? C’mon Gill), Gill (making Andrew Demetriou appear like Adam Silver), commentary (critically, there may be one other column or eight there as a result of we as followers may mount a category motion towards the standard and amount of commentary, and the league can be screwed) and behavioural consciousness officers (as a result of footy is a sport greatest considered in whole silence).
However I’m in a glass-half-full temper so let’s have a look at the ladder and see what we are able to make of the primary 14 rounds.
First, the rabble. Carlton took a optimistic step by altering coach, with David Teague realising that Charlie Curnow is a expertise who needs to be given each likelihood to thrive and never be educated into changing into a foot soldier.
Their depth and listing points persist, however with Curnow, Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh they’ve three studs round which to construct.
They rank second final in disposal differential and third-last in each deal with differential and inside 50 differentials. There are not any statistical silver linings, however Teague will get a superb likelihood to stake a declare for the full-time gig over the following 9 weeks.
The Suns have the least expertise of any group within the league and gained their three video games by a complete of 9 factors earlier within the season. They’ve misplaced 9 straight and the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel could be a freight prepare.
Unusually, Stuart Dew deserves a good quantity of credit score as a result of aside from being dissected by the Giants, they’ve been in each sport and with a bit extra polish may have a couple of extra wins on the board.
Worrying they rank final in each inside 50 and tackling differential, in addition to one percenters and metres gained differentials. The sport plan is to try to maintain their opponents from dealing with the ball as a lot as attainable, however it isn’t working. If Carlton are something however anaemic for the rest of the season, the Gold Coast win the picket spoon.
Melbourne have been seen to be the following large factor primarily based on a six-week explosion late final season however the preliminary ultimate towards West Coast ought to have informed us what we would have liked to listen to.
The footy trade loves the Demons story, however Simon Goodwin has not confirmed to be adept at this teaching caper and this yr has been an abject failure.
They rank second in each clearance and inside 50 differentials, primarily as a result of Max Gawn’s ruck dominance, however they’re streets forward of the league in clanger differential – they don’t have any issues getting the ball, however butcher it.
They’re a superb living proof for why we shouldn’t anoint gamers as stars till they’ve confirmed to be above league common for greater than a dozen video games. A backside 4 spot awaits them, and Goodwin’s job have to be below query.
The group on 5 wins – Bulldogs, North, Sydney, Hawthorn – appear to be stepping into numerous instructions, however the rapid future isn’t essentially as vivid as some would have you ever assume.
The Swans have been plucky of late, as is their approach, and a few of their younger gamers look to have good futures however the statistics are damning. They rank second final in contested possession differential and inside 50 differential and third final in clearance differential.
They’ve turn into an uncontested possession group however lack the category to make use of the ball, which they should rectify. The Swans have defeated one group within the high ten, and regardless of having a simple draw coming residence, they are going to end on eight to 10 wins with extra questions than solutions.
The Bulldogs are set to turn into the primary group in additional than 40 years to overlook the finals for 3 consecutive seasons after successful a flag, and it’s an unimaginable flip of occasions. In case you watch them, they’re daring and rank third in efficient disposal differential and whole disposal differential and have a few of the most expert gamers within the competitors.
They rank third in clearance differential and inside 50 differential regardless of being shredded week after week within the ruck. If you would like a protected guess, take the Canines overlaying the road towards any first rate aspect.
However the place are they going? Is it so simple as fixing the ahead line? They are going to win eight to 10 video games and waste one other yr of prime Marcus Bontempelli. They haven’t progressed a lot in any respect in 2019.
The Hawks are nearing the tip of essentially the most unimaginable period we’ve got seen in trendy occasions, however Al Clarkson would possibly bounce earlier than the ship sinks as a result of the younger expertise is solely not there.
They’ve gotten a move in most media circles, and rightly so, however there may not be two or three groups with worse rapid futures than the Hawks. They’re lacking Tom Mitchell on the clearances, and actually struggling to kick a successful rating.
To put in writing them off can be silly, however you get the sensation they won’t be recognisable on the sphere or within the coaches field in 2020.
North Melbourne sacked the polarising Brad Scott, however Scott did a marvellous job of constructing it appear like he stepped down. One of many highlights of Scott’s teaching profession was a budget shot on David King, who he mistook for a younger Nick Riewoldt.
Experiences that he’ll stroll into one other head teaching job are fairly frankly outstanding. He fell on his personal sword with listing development over the previous few seasons, and his much-vaunted struggle chest did not get the large names promised.
Rhyce Shaw has gotten some life out of a listing that has many flaws and lacks depth, and they’re very center of the desk in most statistical classes. They handball greater than most and have unearthed a budding stud in Tarryn Thomas, however they’re prone to be as irrelevant below a brand new coach as they’ve been for the very best a part of a decade below Scott.
Essendon and St Kilda are the following two sides on the ladder however don’t tackle face worth – neither aspect can be pleased with the place they’re at and can doubtless discover themselves enjoying for brand new coaches earlier than the tip of the season.
The Bombers have been a preferred pre-season flag fancy of many, however the membership appears stooped in a mire of cruise management. The acquisitions of Dylan Shiel and Devon Smith have been nice strikes, and the listing high quality appears to be there, however it isn’t clicking.
There appears no actual statistical purpose for the wrestle – their defence was the second greatest within the competitors from Rounds Four-12, however the midfield is middling and the assault is scatter gun.
Final season they flew residence when the season was useless. To take action once more would supply nothing to its followers, and probably make them extra annoyed.
St Kilda will level to accidents, however I’ll level to having a coach who has been there for 5 years and never made finals nor ever had greater than a fleeting second when any neutral footy fan noticed a future in his aspect.
They’re backside six in inside 50 differential and efficient disposals, whereas having the fourth worst assault and fifth worst defence. To observe a sport is to see arguably the bottom share of expert ball customers of any aspect within the league. That isn’t one thing that needs to be stated of a aspect with as many excessive draft picks because the Saints.
Alan Richardson is on borrowed time, and the brand new coach might want to work some magic to get this aspect wherever near finals in 2020.
Richmond sit ninth. This isn’t a joke, however their season is doubtful of changing into one. Their propensity to embrace chaos and strain has been admirable over the previous few seasons, with Dustin Martin and Jack Riewoldt being the cream on a hard-working cake.
Sydney Stack has proven promise, however the cream is lacking, and the league has caught up with the Tigers. They rank final in contested possession differential, and second final in uncontested possession differential and clearance differential.
The gamers who’ve been so good as supporting items are lower than taking an even bigger function within the absence of some stars, and regardless of a charmed run residence they’re making up the numbers in the event that they make finals. They’ve been exhausting hit by accidents however have led a charmed existence over the past two seasons, and have some choices to make on some key gamers if the season heads the way in which it seems to be like it can.
Fremantle, Brisbane and Port Adelaide have swung between tough flag fancy, simple first spherical finals opponent and strong mid-range group and we don’t know the place the three of them will land.
The Dockers have a robust listing, however unavailable key gamers are catching up with them. Michael Walters is borderline elite, however as a frontrunner in all probability shouldn’t be headbutting opponents along with his group on the crossroads.
They are going to metal themselves for the second Derby, however a loss could start a freefall in direction of a center of the desk end.
Port Adelaide dominated draft night time with Xavier Duursma, Connor Rozee, Zac Butters and Willem Drew and the Geelong win was spectacular.
They lead the league in clearance and inside 50 differential and are a hazard on any given day however are unreliable. Finals are on the agenda, but it surely’s powerful to see them going previous the primary week except issues go their approach.
Brisbane are this season’s bolter, with high quality throughout the sphere and a powerful recruiting haul that added Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons to a midfield that wanted bolstering. This has allowed Dayne Zorko to turn into the sport’s pre-eminent pressuring small ahead.
They’ve gotten by with a really inconsistent ahead line and switch for residence with one hand on a finals spot. The run residence isn’t simple, with 4 video games towards fellow high eight groups (three of that are away) however they need to maintain on to a spot within the decrease reaches of the eight, which is able to make for a outstanding 2019.
And we’re left with 5 groups able to successful the flag.
Adelaide are the flimsiest of the bunch however get the best alternative this Friday night time to stake their claims as an actual contender. All three areas of the sphere are laden with high quality, and they’re beginning to get their troops again after a wide range of accidents.
They’ve the very best assault within the land outdoors Perth, and a midfield with extra top-end expertise than most. Taylor Walker cops lots and deserves little or no of it. He’s the cream on the cake and shall be significantly better for having Tom Lynch again and match.
West Coast are equally criticised, chastised and regarded a menace and it’s not clear which of these narratives is true.
They’re backside 4 in inside 50, whole possession, uncontested possession and efficient disposal differentials, typically sleepwalking by video games and anticipating a talented ahead to line to dominate with out a lot construction.
The premiership aspect from final yr is unbroken, and they’ll add Andrew Gaff, Brad Sheppard and Nic Naitanui. Starvation is a really actual question, as it’s with most groups defending their flag, however it could be a courageous man or girl to guess towards the Eagles going again to again in such an open season.
The following six or eight weeks will decide whether or not they have a change they will flick or a stage to go to when the strain is on – in the event that they don’t, they might have a look at this as being a wasted flag defence.
The Giants are stacked with pure expertise, as will occur if you find yourself pumped filled with high ten draft picks till no extra can match.
Their midfield expertise is unprecedented, and they’re dominating the competitors in each efficient possession and uncontested possession differential. Their expertise make it very exhausting for the opposite aspect to get the ball again as soon as the Giants have it.
Their MCG kind stays a priority. They may be one key again away from holding the superb sides, when their midfield isn’t dominating.
If they will end high two and don’t must journey, it positions them very nicely, however their lack of high quality away wins means they may be a step brief come crunch time.
The Magpies, just like the Eagles, appear to be in a state of flux – maybe it’s their later begin to pre-season, a confidence that they will declare a high 4 spot with out a lot effort or one thing else.
The Dayne Beams gamble has confirmed a poor one, however total, they’ve a robust listing of accessible gamers.
Jaidyn Stephenson is taken into account a significant loss, however a look of his profession stats towards high eight sides (trace – he doesn’t get a kick) makes you wonder if he’ll really be missed.
Brodie Grundy is the very best all-round ruckman since Dean Cox, and their attacking choices are plentiful, however that is the third greatest aspect within the combine now, at greatest.
Now we get to Geelong. Final week’s loss to Port Adelaide was predictable as that is what Chris Scott-coached groups do – lose put up bye.
The statistics are a blended bag and don’t inform us a lot – they rank second in contested possession differential, 12th in inside 50s per sport, 13th in clearances however first in tackles.
They’ve unearthed some cracking rookies and a few good recruits, and can waltz to a high two spot on the again of an unimaginable residence floor benefit and a charmed run residence – they play simply three high sides presently within the high ten between now and the tip of the season.
Scott’s best problem could also be retaining his aspect mentally and bodily prepared for finals, with Carlton in Spherical 23 and the pre-finals bye once they have doubtless secured high spot.
They’ve the very best defence by some margin, a various ahead line and robust midfield. As we stand after Spherical 14, it’s Geelong’s flag to lose however come September, the ghosts of current finals previous will doubtless play on their minds.