Analysis The Case for Plan B and how it can be done

RookiePick

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#26
That's a great, considered post Dylan82. The statistics and the eye test show that at present we are not simply being beaten but that our whole process of how we move the ball has been broken down and leaves us horribly exposed on the counter.

You really clarified how the opposition seem to be constantly outnumbering us through the middle, on our HFF and hurting us on the transition with seemingly endless numbers of free players. I think it is also a really good call that the coaching group really did try to "pull some levers" against Geelong but we actually played even further into their hands with what we tried to execute. Watching our blokes running away from the contest to try and generate a spare created some painfully funny moments.

I think a lot of us have been identifying the excess of talls hindering an effective response to this dissection of our game plan. Given the prevalence of our games played under lights, in slippery conditions has compounded our problem by hindering our ability to regain control with kick/mark as we managed to do in several games last season. We have really struggled to generate possession chains that are threatening enough to result in the opposition having to change up their structures in response.

Something that always sticks with me about footy - When you move, the picture changes. An over riding feature of our play the last fortnight is how static we have been. This is reflective of our system being broken down and uncertainty taking hold but if we are prepared to run hard, shepherd and play hard contested footy for periods we can force the opposition to respond structurally and get the game back on our terms where kick mark can cause serious damage.

One thing I did see as extremely promising late in the game at Geelong was a clear directive to start trying to run the ball out of the back line. Duggan made several hard runs with the ball. I think this will be a really important part of manipulating the way the numbers respond up field and we should have put some good work into this tactic and what running patterns need to be happening to generate options to move the ball through half forward and i50.

We've been worked out but I think we can get back on course pretty rapidly once we find a few levers that work for us in 2019. We still have an awful lot of quality across the field and class is permanent IMO.
 

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FKASC

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#27
We still have an awful lot of quality across the field and class is permanent IMO.
I agree with this. Apart from the fact our inside mids are not great contested players and we have a lack of inside midfield depth, we have a lot of very good players in the side. Especially when you factor in Naitanui and Rioli coming back.

The fact this is mostly structural (with a bit of effort and attitude thrown in) means it’s just a matter of tweaking the structure IMO. It’s a good challenge for the coaches.

I still think my comment previously about having too many key forwards because they want to develop Allen and Brander is valid. I think if we were able to give them a prime key position role at WAFL level, we would be more likely to drop Allen and less likely to ‘reward’ Brander with an indistinct role.

I don’t think they want Brander or Allen to be playing as KPDs but that’s what they’ll end up playing at the Beagles if they are dropped, as there’s not more room in that forwardline. Unless they bring Waterman in, but he looked way out of sorts against Bris.
 

RookiePick

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#30
Agree with this. Especially in poorer conditions like the last two weeks, the three tall set up plus 2 rucks absolutely doesnt work.

I don’t mind keeping allen in the team now we are playing 1 ruck. But once nic nat is back I think we are going to have to make the tough call of dropping allen if we go back to two rucks.

Essentially rioli and nic nat should come in for allen and a mid, based on our current strucure this week
The conditions last week were pretty good. We also didn't play 3 KPF + 2 Rucks.
 

BartBart

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#32
Nice OP - obviously a lot of thought and a bit of drafting into a very readable piece.

Sorry - the below was written on the fly.

We saw a weakness to our game plan last season when Melbourne & Essendon smashed us at home. There were common themes from the opponents in those games.

1: play on at all cost - take a mark... spin around and play on.

2: under no circumstances bomb a long kick into our defence - that would be asking for an inevitable intercept mark.
The kick must go to 60-70m out - leaving a 20m kick to a one on one contest with the fwd leading to the kicker.

The above made us look very poor - but other teams kept up with the bombing it to McGovern, Hurn, Barrass and/or Shepherd.

The change in the 6-6-6 rule has made it harder this year too. Last year we had Cripps on the back side of the centre square sprinting in to the square on the bounce which can't be done this year. Yesterday he was primarily in the forward 50 at bounces.

Yesterday no.33 for GC was a spare man in their defence (wasn't sure where our spare man was). Cripps' man was 20m on the defensive side of him. We needed a short pass to Cripps to make the defender pay for the zoning off.

Another difference this season is we had quite a few fwd/mids who rotated pressure up the ground. Rioli (inj) and Lecras (ret) has reduced pressure in the middle of the ground.

We just seem too tall - often 3 fwds flying for the same ball (Kennedy, Darling, Allen) and it seems they don't roam further up the ground this season to help provide a link between Backs & Forwards. Kennedy might be doing less kms due to his leg issues?

Our drafting over a number of years has given us a taller squad (without seeing an analysis on heights of each club which would be interesting). I wonder if this guides on the tactics that we employ.

Last season in that link up area often went Gaff getting a mark in the vicinity of the boundary, Redden running into the hole 25m further along the boundary from a position perpendicular to the boundary. Gaff would then repeat the move Redden just did.

And finally... not sure - but I wonder if the removal of the red/green vest helped our setup to the Premiership.
 
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Trouto

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#33
To me, yesterday was a glaring example of the accuracy of Dylan82's post here. We were allowed to run our "plan A" in the first half, then Gold Coast shut down out options out of defense and we went to water. We had no alternate plan to getting the ball past their 50-70 meter area and you saw a number of "wtf?" moments, where players had their 1st option to deliver to the wings removed.
 

The Passenger

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#34
Our system is very reliant on our talls and the only one (available) who is up to his normal standards is McGovern.

There's no doubt we have to adapt. When teams put huge amounts of pressure on us, we wither badly.

I don't think Port - or any team - can bring the same intensity they bought against us for 22 rounds and be cherry ripe for finals. It's too taxing. But teams only have to play us once or twice and they can clearly see that game style has success against us. Such a style may not work so well against other teams like Richmond or Collingwood, so they can revert to a less physical and more skill based methodology of victory.

We've seen a clear and specific game style that we are seriously uncomfortable facing.

Adam Simpson is clearly a fan of a systematic approach to the game. We can't complain too much as it's won us a flag, but Plan B has always been "The worm will turn. Keep going with Plan A and trust the system".

I think this year will be his biggest challenge yet, not least because expectations are obviously high. He's nailed pretty much every coaching challenge thrown at him yet, so I'm confident he'll do so again.

The Port game may have a silver lining. It's much easier to rectify issues exposed in April then those exposed in August, or indeed September.
 
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Goosecat

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#35
Ah congestion, congestion and more congestion. Wouldn't the AFL just love it if every game reverted to such.

Of course winning the few centre bounce clearances would become even more important as one of the few times when 6,6,6 and some space is available as would Ruck stocks in general with all the increased congested play and extra stoppages. And lets face it, we obviously have by far the greatest congested ball midfield and Ruck stocks going so it would certainly be playing to our strengths and those of the playing group we have:think:.

Hmmm. Really?
 

KERRPOW

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#36
great post.

we've been going in too tall for the last 15 years. I think FINALLY its started to show, without a dominant ruckman that its a hinderance to the team.

Nic's never been fit enough to ruck more than 70% of the game, so we needed a half decent ruckman for the 30%.

When (if) nic returns this year then we will likely return to a 2 man ruck combination, i can see us fielding a 3 tall forwardline AND a resting ruck
 

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SloppyJoe

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#37
We have developed a very specific kicking/marking game plan which requires:

(1) Wide, open expanses (Optus, MCG, not KP); and

(2) Dry, non-windy conditions (no rain or dew/humidity (Port and Brissie games), no windy Tassie games)

Thankfully, most of our games cater to the above. But when one or both are missing, we look terrible.

People say we lose to pressure teams but that's only been true where we don't have the above 2 conditions. Obviously, when there is less space to play and/or it is wet there will be more pressure on us. But we did fine against the pressure teams last year (Tigers/Pies) when conditions suited us.

I'm all for developing a Plan B for wet/congested games, but frankly I don't think we have the cattle for it. And it means we are spending less time honing, refining and tweaking our Plan A.
 

amazingjoshy

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#38
great post.

we've been going in too tall for the last 15 years. I think FINALLY its started to show, without a dominant ruckman that its a hinderance to the team.

Nic's never been fit enough to ruck more than 70% of the game, so we needed a half decent ruckman for the 30%.

When (if) nic returns this year then we will likely return to a 2 man ruck combination, i can see us fielding a 3 tall forwardline AND a resting ruck

I reckon Hickey with still do the majority of the ruck work, with NN to sit fwd mostly. Pretty much the Allen role of the last few weeks but with longer stints in the ruck than Allen (obviously).
 

Chris_6678

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#39
I reckon Hickey with still do the majority of the ruck work, with NN to sit fwd mostly. Pretty much the Allen role of the last few weeks but with longer stints in the ruck than Allen (obviously).
I can see Nic Nat being a burst player who we play off the bench rather than plonk in the forward line.
 

Dylan82

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Thread starter #40
Thanks all by the way, appreciate the feedback.

How long did that take to write?
This is something I first considered writing about in the off-season, mostly because everyone was thinking about kick-to-mark gameplans and it's the first thing I would try if I were an opposition coach facing the Eagles. The embarrassments against Port and Geelong provided me with the added motivation to put it together and the government going into caretaker mode meant I effectively got paid for the time spent on it. :moustache:

Is.Dylan82 Bran Stark?
My tipping would be going far better if I were.

Used to be heavily involved in coaching juniors in AFL, basketball and soccer which has no doubt influenced my view of tactics and approach. Also come from a semi-professional track running background (being one of the few people in the country who has run a sub-5 minute 2km), which I think is probably why I often pay attention to what is happening off the ball more than near it.
You could say there was a sliding doors moment in 2013 as it looked increasing likely that an opportunity in fitness and conditioning would be offered by the Brisbane Lions for season 2014 - however Voss got sacked, the club had a war in the boardroom and I failed to follow up on it as the timing coincided with the birth of my daughter.
Did a lot of coaching 12 to 17s and got a reputation for having hard running teams (go figure) and teams that were able to remain (mostly) competitive despite having far less overall quality than the opposition. Unfortunately didn't get to coach anyone that progressed on to being drafted, but coached against many who did. After one game, I had this business-looking guy approach me after the game asking all these weird questions - I had no idea who they were and just presumed that he was a parent of one of the opposition players (it's not uncommon to be approached after games for a variety of reasons anyway) and played a flat bat and pretty much fobbed them off. Turns out, apparently it was one of the main decision-makers of Southport Juniors, who was sounding me out for their Colts team - I guess I must have made a bad impression.

Haven't coached for almost five years now. My eldest child will probably play his first season next year, which will no doubt find me involved again in some way.
 

RookiePick

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#44
... My eldest child will probably play his first season next year, which will no doubt find me involved again in some way.
You aren't going to be one of those dads who has his auskickers calling and running set plays in the grid games while the other sides kids are still working on getting the footy from hand to foot I hope.
 

kerr87

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#45
Dylan82 Did we change anything in the last quarter - because we were quite dominant.

Maybe Melbourne were just wrecked. Backed up travelling to Perth after flying to Gold Coast the week before. Play a high intensity brand of footy which would be incredibly taxing.
 

Dylan82

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Thread starter #46
You aren't going to be one of those dads who has his auskickers calling and running set plays in the grid games while the other sides kids are still working on getting the footy from hand to foot I hope.
Haha I wouldn't rule it out.

If you were to change Auskick to juniors in that statement it would probably be correct though.
 

Dylan82

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Thread starter #47
Dylan82 Did we change anything in the last quarter - because we were quite dominant.

Maybe Melbourne were just wrecked. Backed up travelling to Perth after flying to Gold Coast the week before. Play a high intensity brand of footy which would be incredibly taxing.
There definitely has been some amendments since the Geelong game - most notably the forward flankers are no longer playing strictly goal-side of their opponents and are pushing much higher up the ground, often into the defensive zone, helping to block lead-up areas of opposition forwards. This is also providing an additional counterattacking outlet as they are presenting in the corridor as soon as the defence is able to gain possession.

Cripps in particular is being deployed in a more expansive role as evidenced by the recent jump in his distance covered figures.


As for the Melbourne game, I'm in alignment with your thoughts. The Demons committed extras to the stoppages on the back of Gawn's ruck dominance and tried to emulate Port's play-on mentality to keep the defence from settling from there. Two things occurred in the last quarter that in my opinion proved decisive:
  • Melbourne tired - Back-to-back road trips playing an exhaustive style that cannot be maintained for four quarters. As Gawn tired, his taps became less decisive and the clean clearances from Melbourne that caught out the defence earlier in the game dried up. With slower ball movement from the Demons and extras trying to get up the ground, McGovern and Hurn were able to zone off opponents and intercept mark.
  • Change in possession mentality - Rather than trying to be clean and play perfect football it became don't think, get it forward and apply pressure. Lots of tap ons and flicks forward over trying to take outright possession and handball. With Melbourne's midfield guilty of following the ball, clearing the initial contest and tackle zone through knocking it forward allowed the spread of Eagles players waiting on the outside to become involved and move the ball quickly into attack, completely exposing the injury-impacted defence of the Demons.
 

Rowan18

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#50
We also got lucky with the umps a bit - the Cripps throw that led to the Sheed goal was fortunate.
That kind of stuff happens at every contest, it's just usually really hard to spot. I don't blame the ump for missing that at all, BT noticed it because the camera had an elevated view at the perfect angle.

Let's not forget the number of times Melbourne was allowed to drop the ball when tackled without being pinged for illegal disposal. The umpiring was average for both sides.
 
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