Strategy While we’ve been tearing our hair out - has Don completely changed the gameplan?

Peter J

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A discussion for all the strategically minded. I’ve noticed in the last 2 weeks how well we’ve structured our defence, and this involves seeing them set much deeper than years gone by.

The extent to which last nights game was a defensive battle got me thinking about the earlier rounds. Games where we were generally ok defensively but couldn’t score ourselves.

We are 3rd for least points conceded, we have yet to concede a 100 point score, 4 times we’ve kept sides to under 70 points. It’s an impressive season for Marty Mattner and his gang.

I’m interested in what others think? Other than setting out zone much deeper, are others seeing differences?

I think the free wheeling days of 2016-17 might be gone in favour of a game plan they think may stand up better in finals, and those frustrations in early games we were working out how to get some offence into the new structure.

Just a thought - but maybe we are changing the offensive brand to a more dour outfit?
 

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Scorpus

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#2
Few tweaks to the forward zone as well I think.

Making a much more concerted effort to create space, even when the opposition is clogging us up. Whether this is how we've wanted to play all along and Jenkins with his ineptitude wasn't letting us, I'm not sure.

Overall I've seen fewer times we have targeted 4-5 guys in a pack, and more occasions where it's one tall plus crumbers. It looks to me like we've done this with Walker deeper, and Himmelberg not leading into the same space as Walker so each forward has serious separation. We aren't relying on Jenkins as the deep (non-)marking target, we are giving that duty to both Walker and Berg with guys like Betts and Murphy hovering around to get those ground balls.

I also think the addition of Greenwood has changed it up a bit down there as well. When he's there we seem to play him quite deep and he seems to be the designated 'pack floater': the guy that comes in to a pack to take a big grab rather than get a ground ball. This has also helped Betts and Murphy have a more clearly defined role; I haven't seen them fly for ridiculous marks as often with Greenwood down there.

Finally, I think we've seen Lynch's role change and push up even higher than before. In the early rounds it felt like we used him as a deep target quite often, but now he's barely ever inside 40m to goal and instead is really reverting back to his high half forward/wing and link-man role. The addition of Greenwood up forward means he isn't needed as much as that deep third tall, and by getting Lynch out of there we are getting more space for our other forwards to work in (as I said earlier). Haven't seen Lynch and Walker cramp each other up as much, which in turn has allowed Walker to play deeper and freer.

What all of this has allowed us to do is instead of attempting out-the-back goose goals - whether that was Betts, Jenkins or Lynch - we are more interested in having our forwards lead and provide genuine contests inside 50. We are no longer trying to get over the back of the defensive zone every time any more, simply because teams have figured that out and keep their defenders very deep against us. Turing our forward line into a contest winning group is allowing us to play a more defensive style while still getting some success inside 50.
 

Large 1

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#3
I’ve been contemplating the same with regard to our defensive zone. I think we are sitting deeper and are working much harder in rolling the zone back similar to Geelong and Freo.

With regards to our forwards, We seem to be bringing them up higher to match numbers in the oppositions defensive zone and precent to easy turnover when bombing out of a contest. This however doesn’t allow for the 2017 special of the quick movement into space over the back of the zone.

Also, except for Geelong, we’ve played some pretty crap teams....so there’s that too!
 

Godallblighty

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#4
I really have no idea about footy strategy. Most of it is indecipherable to me, so I really appreciate these kind of analyses. The only game live I've seen this year was the North Melbourne one. Even though it was comfortably our worst game in several seasons, what was notable about it was the philosophy evident in the style of play. It was ultra defensive - obsessively, crushingly, we-can't-possibly-win-like-this defensive. And yeah, a billion universes away from 2017's freewheelin' scorefests. In subsequent games we've obviously realised that we took it way way too far in that game, but I think it's clear 2019 Crows are attempting to be a more dour outfit.
 

Alwaysacrow

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#6
Without going all forensic like you guys have, what I've noticed is who is in the middle.
Sloane, Crouches, CEY, Greenwood. None of these guys have got express pace but all are contested ball beasts. On paper it looks like a very slow midfield but most of these guys have got quick hands. It will be interesting when we match up with seriously quick sides but for the moment we seem to be winning our fair share of the ball from the middle and don't get pushed around as much. Plus of course the emergence of ROB.
Just a thought anyway.
 

Godallblighty

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#7
The scoring would indicate that's the case across the whole competition generally.....just at this point in time some teams are better than others in execution.
Do you reckon clubs reacted to the potential effects of 666 by concentrating on defence, or did the football zeitgeist just drift towards the miserly as, ironically, the AFL tried to manufacture more open zones?
 

OutofTownCrow

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#8
Also, except for Geelong, we’ve played some pretty crap teams....so there’s that too!
1 - L - Hawks (3-4, W- Crows, North, Carlton)
2 - W- Sydney (1-6, W- Carlton)
3 - L - Cats (6-1, W- Pies, Demons, Crows, Hawks, Eagles, Dons)
4 - L - North (2-5, W- Crows, Carlton)
5 - W- Suns (3-4, W- Freo, Dogs, Carlton)
6 - W- Saints (4-3, W- Suns, Dons, Hawks, Demons)
7 - W- Freo (4-3, W- North, Saints, Giants, Dogs)

You are right, not much quality in there. I reckon the one that stands out is the North game, that's a bad loss. We always lose to the Hawks, Cats are flying ... we have won the other 4 games.

We play a pretty ordinary team in Power this week ... look who they have wins against:

Melbourne
Carlton
Eagles
North

That's 3 of the 4 worst performing teams in 2019, and a win over the Eagles in Perth that is a great effort ... but they were struggling BIG time.

Win this week, and we are still none the wiser. The next 5 games after the showdown are gonna define our season:

Lions at the Gabba
Eagles at AO
Demons in NT
Giants at AO
Tigers at AO

Let's see where we stand after those :)
 

cmndstab

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#9
Some tweaks, certainly. Honestly though, I think most of it is "don't get beaten so badly at the contest". It's amazing how much of a difference it makes when you don't let the opposition team get clean ball through the middle. Not only does it mean the ball is easier to defend, but it's also easier to get your structure in place to attack again in the event that you create a turnover.

I really like the whole "leaving at least one deep" thing though. Nothing more frustrating than having an empty defensive 50, and then turning the ball over and watching an opposition player run into an open goal. And I don't think we really miss having Talia or Hartigan floating around in the centre square.
 

MRB37

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#10
Do you reckon clubs reacted to the potential effects of 666 by concentrating on defence, or did the football zeitgeist just drift towards the miserly as, ironically, the AFL tried to manufacture more open zones?
Games were heading that way anyway, it's just 6-6-6 hasn't added any major boosts to scoring like they thought it would.
 

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StonesThrow

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#12
1 - L - Hawks (3-4, W- Crows, North, Carlton)
2 - W- Sydney (1-6, W- Carlton)
3 - L - Cats (6-1, W- Pies, Demons, Crows, Hawks, Eagles, Dons)
4 - L - North (2-5, W- Crows, Carlton)
5 - W- Suns (3-4, W- Freo, Dogs, Carlton)
6 - W- Saints (4-3, W- Suns, Dons, Hawks, Demons)
7 - W- Freo (4-3, W- North, Saints, Giants, Dogs)

You are right, not much quality in there. I reckon the one that stands out is the North game, that's a bad loss. We always lose to the Hawks, Cats are flying ... we have won the other 4 games.

We play a pretty ordinary team in Power this week ... look who they have wins against:

Melbourne
Carlton
Eagles
North

That's 3 of the 4 worst performing teams in 2019, and a win over the Eagles in Perth that is a great effort ... but they were struggling BIG time.

Win this week, and we are still none the wiser. The next 5 games after the showdown are gonna define our season:

Lions at the Gabba
Eagles at AO
Demons in NT
Giants at AO
Tigers at AO

Let's see where we stand after those :)
Good post.

We certainly need a few more tweaks before we start playing the better teams. Still think we're playing average footy in the scheme of things.
 

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#13
Is this something which happens to every coach as their tenure wears on, and their naive original ideas are defeated by cynical experience and fear of a risk which goes wrong?

We racked up some big scores in 05-06 the gradually became more four and defensive as the NC era wore on.

Clarkson’s Hawks kick a lot less goals than they did in 2008.

Hinkley’s Port started out playing with great energy then gradually seized up into last year’s unique display. He’s trying to turn the clock back this year.

Blighty’s Crows were a lot tighter defensively than his Cats.

Anecdotally at least it feels like this is fairly common.
 

kulak

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#14
I would say Pyke is responding to team balance with Milera Seedsman injured - but we were playing the same way in pre season.

Setup defensively. Defenders hold their ground. Play safe with the ball because we don’t have the pace to defend counter attacks. Bash through the congestion with our battleship midfield.

With enough system that when we do get it forward we still look a threat, or at least more of a threat than Fremantle.
 

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#15
Without going all forensic like you guys have, what I've noticed is who is in the middle.
Sloane, Crouches, CEY, Greenwood. None of these guys have got express pace but all are contested ball beasts. On paper it looks like a very slow midfield but most of these guys have got quick hands. It will be interesting when we match up with seriously quick sides but for the moment we seem to be winning our fair share of the ball from the middle and don't get pushed around as much. Plus of course the emergence of ROB.
Just a thought anyway.
Would not call Brad Crouch and Greenwood slow, Brad 20m sprint is the same as Dangerfield (2.92), and Greenwood is 2.97
ROB no slouch in that area.
 

Jeffcrowe

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#16
The tactics I think are extra numbers around the ball and more inside mids

The rest might just be a product of our forward line being pretty poor and our defence being very good

It’s the first time in years our defence is our strongest line , nearly all of our defenders have capacity to intercept mark coming off their man and most defend well 1 on 1 too

For increased scoring I feel we need a Milera type or 2 ( Jones as he develops) to increase the speed of ball movement and entry into attack

Teams play a goalkeeper or 2 against us these days so we don’t get those transition goals anymore , we need to re learn how to lead up at footy and we are starting to
 

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#17
A discussion for all the strategically minded. I’ve noticed in the last 2 weeks how well we’ve structured our defence, and this involves seeing them set much deeper than years gone by.

The extent to which last nights game was a defensive battle got me thinking about the earlier rounds. Games where we were generally ok defensively but couldn’t score ourselves.

We are 3rd for least points conceded, we have yet to concede a 100 point score, 4 times we’ve kept sides to under 70 points. It’s an impressive season for Marty Mattner and his gang.

I’m interested in what others think? Other than setting out zone much deeper, are others seeing differences?

I think the free wheeling days of 2016-17 might be gone in favour of a game plan they think may stand up better in finals, and those frustrations in early games we were working out how to get some offence into the new structure.

Just a thought - but maybe we are changing the offensive brand to a more dour outfit?
Two words: Ben Hart
 

Peter J

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Thread starter #19
The tactics I think are extra numbers around the ball and more inside mids

The rest might just be a product of our forward line being pretty poor and our defence being very good

It’s the first time in years our defence is our strongest line , nearly all of our defenders have capacity to intercept mark coming off their man and most defend well 1 on 1 too

For increased scoring I feel we need a Milera type or 2 ( Jones as he develops) to increase the speed of ball movement and entry into attack

Teams play a goalkeeper or 2 against us these days so we don’t get those transition goals anymore , we need to re learn how to lead up at footy and we are starting to
Isn’t it pretty much the same key personnel though?

The other thing is the slowing of ball movement. There seems to be a concerted effort to build forward from defence inch by inch. Players constantly waiting with the ball.
 

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#20
Good OP and good responses. A definite change in defensive structure. Our high press - "Walsh's Wall", a feature of our game - is not happening anymore when we have the ball locked in our forward 50. We're operating a much more traditional defensive zone in these instances. This is resulting in way fewer goals "out the back". We also have mids - namely Matt Crouch and Sloane - pushing very deep in the back 50 to get ground balls, which is out of the ordinary for us. It's actually a very West Coast thing to do - Gaff and Shuey get a lot of D50 ball.

I think it changed in the week after the Cats game. The Hawks and Cats opened us up out the back with ball movement. We saw the change during the Kangaroos game - a more patient build up - it was just executed very, very poorly. "Chip around" was overused and we turned it over. We still turn it over - see Knight and Hartigan's miss kicks - but we aren't conceding goals out the back almost at all. I can't think of one in the last month, whereas there were numerous in the first 3 weeks.

We seem to have found some sort of balance.
 
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mattymac

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#21
A point to mention though, you read a lot on here that Pyke has no Plan B, is Neil Craig Mk II etc.

This just isn't true.

In later 2016 we developed a very evident Plan B when sides were tagging Sloane and Smith etc to shut down our free flowing rebound game. In 2017 it won us numerous games. When we would slow the game down and pick our way through methodically.

Now, in 2018 we didn't really pull it off, but we didn't really excel at anything. I think the reason it took time for our Plan B to emerge was because we're a confidence team. We're not a super skilled team, but when we're confident we can pull off the decision making and pin point passing required to dissect other sides' zoning.

You would constantly see oppo supporters saying wow Adelaide are such a skillful kicking team. But we know that's not exactly true.

We still haven't seen us hit that Plan B to maximum effect yet this year, but we're starting to see it in patches. As we build in confidence and fitness I think we'll start to see us switching more between methods within games again like we did in 17.

It does take confidence though to back in the kicking skills and the belief in recovering from the errors that will inevitably come. And it does take fitness and effort to work into the spaces to enable the chains of passes required.

All those prerequisites were lacking last year, confidence, effort and fitness but if things go well over the next few weeks we should be back in the zone to execute Plan B effectively. The fact that our defense has solidified and are working the switch much better in tandem with our mids up the ground bodes well. We're starting to gel again.
 

John Who

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#24
I think we have always been a sound defensive team since the reign of Don. We were heralded as the best attack in 2017, but a lot of our attack happened from the defensive end and we had to win it first to then rebound the ball back to attack.

In 2018, the motherload of injuries really messed with our structures and and confidence and it made the entire team lose focus on the gameplan we had back in 2017.

Now with the loss of Cameron and McGov, in 2019 our attack is still under construction and I think Don knows we need to focus more on the defensive end first before we start playing more attacking footy. I think with the recent wins, we are slowly building more confidence in the new personnel and from a sound defense, I believe we will start to see more attacking footy over the coming games.

Certainly Geelong and Collingwood are showing everyone else that you can win by playing attacking footy. This tells us that we have to be more attacking whilst maintaining a strong defense, to match it with the best sides.
 
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