One supporter's observations on 2021 ahead of 2022

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Bletch

Senior List
Dec 8, 2020
247
604
AFL Club
Carlton
One of my work colleagues is a Richmond member part of the cheer squad (his father works at the club) told me a story on what he believed was the turning point of the club, a lot of moving parts but this was the catalyst.
It happened in a game I can't for the life of me remember who he told me they were playing, Richmond were getting beaten at half time and when they went into the change rooms. Hardwick ripped into Cotchin telling him he had to stand up and start acting like the captain, every one follows the captain so start leading by example.
I couldn't believe my ears when he went on to say that most of the cheer squad were laughing when Cotchin ran back on the ground got into a wrestle and got his ass kicked, this went on week after week while the Tiger army laughed for a while then started feeling embarrassed for him, he wasn't just getting beaten by a little bit but actually being hammered.
Cotchin came back after the off season break a changed person, all of a sudden he was winning his scuffles or at least holding his ground in every one of them. All the players knew and believed if they got in any trouble Cotchin had their back. The whole mind set of the playing group changed and followed his example, followed him into battle, followed him into a dynasty.
Great story!

My Richmond Cheer Squad story... 2013 Elimination Final. Tigger mate got me a ticket, and found we were sitting right amongst the Cheer Squad. A tad intimidating. Tight first half, and I was a bit quiet with all the rabid tiggers around me. Enter Juddy. Ta ta Tiggers. Cheer Squad silent, jaws agape. Felt like I'd killed my mate's puppy. And all this from a team that finished 9th...
 

Justnetime

Debutant
May 18, 2021
92
200
AFL Club
Carlton
Nice post, but i was surprised that hewett didnt come into your calculations
Its valid. Ive mentioned him elsewhere in the midfield thread and rate him. I guess I typed so much that I had to stop somewhere.

I have high hopes for Hewett but definitely have to remember he is a strong contributor rather than game influencer on a weekly basis.

We are excited as club supporters but there would be 10 other clubs supporters that wouldn’t give two shits on him. Cerra on the other hand, every club wants So he got a mention. That and the fact I’m unclear on his role of wing, HB, tagger or inside mid.
 

Ash24

Club Legend
Nov 3, 2020
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Carlton
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I have one quick point and that is more aggressive ball movement in 2022. Off the top of my head, the GWS game (2nd time) was the first time in a while under Teague where we looked to actually take the game on.
 

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Robert Heatley

Team Captain
Jan 26, 2017
340
935
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Carlton
I’ve been reading a lot on here and in the media about Carlton’s defensive woes. Blame has been apportioned in a lot of different areas, and ultimately the defensive group have taken a bit of a hit. When we fail defensively, Saad and Williams have been called out in the media. In the early part of the season, I even looked at Jones a few times and wondered if he had brain cells. Often we found him 20 metres away from his man who goals. Later in the season I was happy Jones was in our side.

What is really important to remember about our defensive group is that individually, so many of them ‘could be’ in that shortlisted all Australian defensive group. Weitering, Docherty, Saad, Williams have all been around the mark. Jones has been mentioned in the media in the last few seasons as a squad chance. Probably just us Carlton fans can see Stocker growing into a strong player. Plowman / Newman / Williamson incite a divided view on their value but they fill the last spots of a strong defensive group.

Personally I feel that defensive group is our strongest - yet evidence is there that we leak goals. I think the cause if further up the field (no brainer – but the detail is interesting). Throughout last season and this season I’ve watch some games with a different perspective. I’ve watched our players when we have lost the ball. Most people watch our players when we have the ball and rate them when they do well with the ball.

Example. Marc Murphy. Marc’s football traits are to find space, lose his opponent and either kick inside 50 or score a goal (creative force). His nature is not to find hard contests (latter years – sore shoulders). Each game he typically finds space and at least gets one goal. In the famous Freo game, a wonder goal. Over 3 years of watching Marc, without the ball, I have seen him often running behind an opponent midfielder 15 metres back as his midfield opponent goes inside 50 for a layup pass or kicks a goal. I doubt anyone really looks at the net effect of Marc doing that. Kicks one goal but his lack of closing down opponents leads to more than one opponent goal. No one sees that his lack of pressure then makes the defenders look out of place and poor due to lack of pressure.

So is above a one off thing at the Carlton footy club. No. It’s about footballer’s natural traits. Gibbons who didn’t play much this season is another link up player like Murphy. He wants space to do his best work (he loses most contested 1-on-1 situations). The cost of this is his opponent also gets space so it is about is a Gibbons better than their opponent’s use (not IMO). I think these link up / space players with no speed, are dead in the current game (Hasleby/Bell in their day), Murphy/Gibbons today.

When the start of 2021 commenced and I looked at Carlton and they talked about Gibbons/Murphy playing in our forward line, I just died a bit. The state of the game has moved to full ground transition plays. Every player now has to play a part in attacking or defensive transition. Not just attacking transition. Gibbons and Murphy’s week in week out traits just don’t include hard defensive running (and TACKLING/PRESSURE). Then looking at this as an impact we introduce Fisher (not his best season), Owies and Honey. Ultimately, Owies and Honey came in and tried 100% with defensive pressure but it requires ‘all forwards’ to do it as a group to be effective. If not, one opponent gets free and away they go. So Carlton had a confused forward setup with defensive pressure. Some players had the traits and others didn’t. No point having 1 defensive fwd like Owies chasing like a rabbit and Murphy waiting in space for a lucky turnover. Murphy should have made way earlier…and not even be played really. This is on the coaches and players so im glad the current coaching team are out. They are either confused or lacking game sense.

So a forward line that leaks on defensive transition is causing us a few headaches but it isn’t the only issue as we have our midfield to deal with. But before that i still think a new coaching set up can solve our forward line issues quickly. Take personalities aside and look at the traits of the role and then select the players. In 2/3 games when we did have dominance in the midfield and around the ground, all our small forwards looked great regardless. There was one game where all the smalls kicked goals. Our current smalls (Fisher, Owies, Honey, Durdin) will be good enough easily when we solve some of the transition and midfield issues. So long as they bring the pressure as their first trait, and as a collective group. That and removing dead IQ defensive players like Casbault also helps.

A similar lack of pressure problem exists with Cripps up the ground but from a slightly different viewpoint. Cripps has contested traits but it just too slow (in an overly slow midfield group). Watching him without the ball. Check it out yourselves. He is trailing his direct opponent by 20 metres on defensive transition (jogging mid-paced). Opponents are handpassing to Cripps direct opponent as an outlet play. So then it is about does Cripps value outweigh his slowness on defensive transition. 2021 says hell no on traits. Not enough possessions, terrible metres gained, terrible disposal efficiency. He did make us proud with his tackling efforts – proves he is trying.

One mindboggling observation which showed Barker and Teague completely struggling. I cant remember the specific games but there were at least 2 games where this occurred. At the centre bounce Cripps was placing himself behind his midfield opponent with his hand on his opponents shoulder guarding him. Our rucks weren’t winning any taps. So the midfield coach and Cripps somehow came up with a strategy that we will lose the tap to advantage so go defensive on your midfielder. I watched the CBA play unfold and just laughed time and again at the stoppage. Opponent won/split tap, Cripps direct opponent was either first in for the ball and ran away as Cripps too slow, or his direct opponent received a handpass and ran away. In every case Cripps too slow to hinder his opponent in any way. In each of the contests, Cripps didn’t even go for the ball, he just sat on defensive side of his opponent scared he would break away too fast. I mean it was slightly ******ed thinking. This plan took away Cripps only strength (get ball) and left him with his biggest weakness (chase player). Most now accept/understands that in this transition game Cripps is basically a roll dice player. He wins clearance we go inside 50…Cripps loses clearance, the opponents goes inside 50. The coaches group somehow removed our chance at an inside 50 while leaving the opposition with their inside 50 strategy intact. One more perspective, Cripp's rushed inside 50 deliveries hardly resulted in a shot on goal. Cripps opponent getting 10-15 metres clear space and time did result in way more goals.

Kennedy (much better with implied running pressure), Setterfield (season write off), Ed are all not fast. Walsh gets a pass. Ed gets a passes too I guess but should be cover only. Zac Williams just went wrong. Dow a complete conundrum in general (watch carefully – cant turn at all at speed, great straight line speed). All don’t have enough defensive transition pressure. All look even worse due to a defensive forward set up leaking the ball so easily. Dow and Cripps are complete liabilities on the defensive side of the game. They don’t have the traits. They do have attacking traits.

So our midfield needs some refinement. After we refine the small forwards. Transition advances means the game is like netball with brutal hits. Back and forth with team transition. Footy a lot more complicated and hard due to more resources. Gibbons, Cripps, Dow, Murphy (gone), Casbault (gone), Mcgovern are all attacking players with liability in defensive transition. Kennedy, Cripps, Setterfield are mid paced to slow (Cripps) in a game where you have to turn and put on implied pressure on the kicker. This game is now reliant on 22 players all doing their part.

I haven’t really got the answers on the midfield due to our current list structure issues (Cripps, Setterfield, Kennedy, Stocker all being inside mids and slower). Cripps needs to hit 28+ possies a game or his dice rolling benefit is a net loss. With the current state of the game the only Carlton midfielder I currently like is Walsh. I’m completely pissed off that Teague didn’t at least try Stocker in the midfield to see ahead for 2022. Hopefully we get Cerra as he does look on the surface to be able to apply implied pressure. Annoyingly, Martin is always injured but has current midfield state of play traits. Can tackle, has speed, can kick, can get metres gained, has an AFL IQ brain unlike a few of our current mids. If we remove history and names, the traits of a current midfielder point us towards the following players: Walsh, Cerra (if we get him), Martin. Then take a chance on Zac Williams, Stocker & Kennedy. Then put up a prayer for Dow and Cunners. In all of this, see if Cripps can find 30 possessions a game as he needs too. Overall, I think we need to use the trade period to solve this as the draft is too slow for this rebuild group.

Strategically, If our midfield is weak in 2022 then remove Cripps and go with players who can really lock down on the opponent defensively as we can rebound from half back as we have 1-on-1 individual winners in that space. Just need pressure on the opponents inside 50 kick. This in a nutshell was what was missing throughout 2021.

So
  1. Fix the forwardline’s identity (pressure from all)
  2. Within reason review the midfield group with ‘traits’ suiting the current state of the game (2 way running, implied pressure etc.). Pick the players with the traits, not the names.
  3. Fix two more things. Stoppage/CBA craft and set ups/exits. Set up CBAs if we have to…to rebound in 2022 from half back while we rebuild that midfield.
We aren’t far off the top 8. We are a little way off the midfield required to win a flag.
Really appreciate this post.

1. Thoughts on Fogarty? The first game against Fremantle was telling.

2. my eyes saw a lot of opposition clean centre breaks when Cripps was in there. I think you’ve explained why.

3. I’m intrigued by the retention of Boyd. Arguably if Boyd and/or O’Brien can be successful, the kicks inside 50 are better, and there is less need for defensive pressure as we are taking marks and kicking goals!
 

Justnetime

Debutant
May 18, 2021
92
200
AFL Club
Carlton
Really appreciate this post.

1. Thoughts on Fogarty? The first game against Fremantle was telling.

2. my eyes saw a lot of opposition clean centre breaks when Cripps was in there. I think you’ve explained why.

3. I’m intrigued by the retention of Boyd. Arguably if Boyd and/or O’Brien can be successful, the kicks inside 50 are better, and there is less need for defensive pressure as we are taking marks and kicking goals!
I loved Fogarty’s start to the 21 season. He ultimately ended up a bit vanilla by seasons end. Maybe he got some niggles. I have him on my bench. In my mind he is not in same boat as Cerra/Walsh obviously but I really prefer him over the guys we just delisted. He is contested which is great. I think if we take away the hype he has less question marks on him than Dow, Cunners and Lob. He has lob covered easy on history as lob has done zilcho...though love that last game and those precision kicks. Fogarty has redundancy in that he can go in the midfield.

For the small forward role, I like Fisher and Honey first. Then I like Martin and Silvagni and then the two big guys. This leaves an in form Fogarty on the bench and an out form Fogarty in the VFL.

Totally agree with your point three but more than just those two, Hewett, Cerra add value on inside 50s. Walsh will improve there too. The key is to remove Ed from that type of role. That in itself is a huge weekly gain. Him and Cripps are terrible offenders.

Can they force Cripps to just see ball, get ball, then hand pass.

I expect big improvement from us, and real excitement all depending on CC.
 

Juddernaut08

Norm Smith Medallist
Nov 8, 2007
9,201
12,256
Melbourne
AFL Club
Carlton
This does not mean everyone's role is the *same*, but everyone has a role to play. I'd argue that Dusty Martin became the most damaging player in the league WHEN he stopped trying to be an all-court 2-way player. He no longer got back-half possessions and instead was utilised by the Tigers are a purely offensive weapon. Sure, he can still tackle, and he's not negligent in defense, but he's always looking to be attacking side and the one doing the delivering. He has the best attacking skillset in the league, so why try to make him what he's not? Double down on his unique gift! So their structure and system relied on others covering his man, but then actively looking to use his skills when attacking. And it worked.

Here's where I think we have all gone a bit sour on Cripps. Clearly playing hurt this year, Cripps is one of the (if not THE) best in the league at something - and that is winning contested possessions and turning it into a clearing handball. Some folks - and definitely Cripps himself - have made the mistake of thinking he can do everything. He's not Dusty, or Fyfe, or Dangerfield. Or Petracca. He's not quick, he's not a particularly accurate or penetrating kick - but he IS a fantastically talented and hard-to-stop player, with a valuable skillset and a bonus x-factor (his size and contested marking). I think the GOOD Cripps can bring to our team vastly outweighs his weakness in speed and defensive run. But our system has to take that into account in order to work. Personally, I think he'll be fantastic in 2022 - so long as he keeps his game simple and to his strengths. To me, he isn't the problem, our system was, and possibly our expectations of Cripps to be everything was.
Fantastic post RE: Cripps. When someone has such a unique strength and is best at the league at something, the best thing to do is find out how to maximise his strengths, not try to make him an average midfielder by getting him to work on his weaknesses.

SNOW.
 

gadj1976

Club Legend
Sep 28, 2004
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adelaide
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Sturt
Good post - fair observations.

Here is the easiest fix though -

Opposition cant run very well if they get hammered in tackles though - this is the real cause of teh between the arcs nuffery on display for the last few years. In any contact sport - the better teams use defensive hurt as an attacking weapon.

Many will be amazed to see the difference if a new coach comes in and says ' no tackle? No play !'.

We've played blokes who have averaged less than a tackle a game - repeatedly and then scratch our heads wondering what is wrong with midfield.
I think the issue is having the defensive structure to enable us to be in positions to tackle. Often teams waltzed through our defense without being touched. Was that the effort of the tackler, or the defensive structure that enabled the opposition to waltz through. I think more so, our structure.
 

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