Roos’ big worry for Adam Simpson’s troops surrounds their ability to win contested ball — an area that has never been the team’s biggest strength but has reached a point where it could cost it dearly.
In particular, the Eagles have had major issues winning the ball post-clearance, as these Champion Data numbers — shown on On The Couch — suggest:
— Post-clearance contested possession differential: 18th
— Post-clearance ground-ball differential: 18th
— Post-clearance loose-ball differential: 18th
— Post-clearance hard-ball differential: 18th
But what Roos was most concerned about was that the Eagles were ranked 18th for ground-ball differential in their defensive 50 and in the midfield.
“In the back-half — where typically your mids are pushing back and you’re dominating — that’s a hard one to be 18th in … and 18th in the midfield as well,” Roos said.
“What that’s telling you is they’re relying on intercept markers.”
On The Couch then revealed individual ground-ball Champion Data ratings for the Eagles’ defenders, who are widely regarded as some of the best intercept markers in the AFL.
— Above average: Jeremy McGovern
— Average: Shannon Hurn
— Below average: Will Schofield, Brad Sheppard, Jackson Nelson
— Poor: Lewis Jetta, Tom Barrass
Would have been nice even just to fall over the line into top 4. But everything that could go wrong literally did. Collingwood somehow closed the % gap. Lost an 8 point (ladder) game to Richmond, and here we sit. If just one of the critical opposition games go our way (Collingwood/Essendon.. Brisbane/Richmond), or we win just one of ours, we’re sitting here, one win away from a prelim with our most influential player to be included. Just how it happens I guess, but I’d rather have finished 5th after being around that mark all year than crash from a potential top 2 spot out of the top 4 in the space of 2 weeks.Having Naitanui back would help immensely with those shocking clearance differentials.
Like last year all we need is to halve the midfield battle and the rest of the team can win it. But I have my doubts.