They've really only lost one game they'd have been expected to win. Away against GWS they were going in underdogs even without the poor JLT. Melbourne would probably have been seen as a 50/50 given the top 4 expectations of both teams at the start of the year, so if you look only at win/loss and ignore the way they lost in the first two rounds they are not too far from where you'd have guessed they would be after 3 rounds in.
Unfortunately I think they can still make finals. Have great ball movement when things are flowing their way, and still have decent players to bring back into the side. Playing group will get some confidence back after last night's win too. Only caveat is how shit Melbourne have been so far, so will need to pass some more stringent tests before you could say they've turned the corner.
Essendon do have some good youth in that 18-23 years of age bracket. However their biggest issue is they don’t have any elite players in their prime who are around 26-29 years old and that’s why they’ve been a middle of the road team for a while.