Defensive system

Every footy show you turn on you’ll hear that we’re the worst team in the comp for defending ball movement arc to arc. I take this to mean that our opposition turn R50s into In50s at a higher rate than against any other team. This is a bad thing we’re told.

To my eye we aren’t over committing to frontal pressure and are deliberately flooding the corridor and then flooding back. The objective seems to be to force teams wide and slow them down. As a consequence I think we’re forcing them into wider shallower entries.

This is Carlton’s shot chart from the corresponding game last year. They scored 12.8. looks to me like they had about 10 shots within 30 meters.

This year they kicked 6.16 and had only had 2 shots within 30m

This year sides are only converting 43% of their shots against us. Third best in the comp. Last year it was 51, second worst. Coincidence? Unlikely imo.

Last year we gave up 53 entries per game (lower mid table) and conceded goals over 26% of the time (second worst rate). This year it’s 56 entries (worst) and only 20% are converted (among the best).

It’s a pretty significant change.

Would be interesting to see a comp wide shot chart comparison to see if we are giving up fewer shots in areas with high convertion rates. My guess is we are.


We are definitely last by design with that stat. The question is whether it is sustainable in big games allowing the opposition to move the ball like that. You’d think smarter well drilled teams will find a way to score if we give them that opportunity.


The ‘Don the Stat’ podcast has discussed this at length this year.


If you hear Merrett speak after the game, he mentions that we need to improve defending ball movement and playing a more fwd half game. So although it isn’t hurting us too much now there is an awareness that it needs to be improved.


im not concerned with how we’re conceding d50 entries. we’re learning as as team how to get to our spots as quickly and efficiently as possible once the ball is turned over.

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We’re still only 13 games into this new system and we’ve already shown we’ve learnt a lot. I think it’ll improve as we become well more drilled.

If this time next year we’re seeing the same stat lines, that may be concerning

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Great analysis Ivan.


We are definitely trying to minimise stoppages at the moment given we are missing Parish and Setterfield. This is probably more relevant for how we are moving the ball but I think it’s plays into the defending into wider areas.


I suspect the evolution of the game plan will be to move the press higher up the field once we have more confidence in ourselves, our set up and our defensive work rate.

In the meantime, the lack of easy goals out the back is nourishing for the soul.


defensively we are about 2 goals a game better this year. we’re about 3 goals a game better offensively and that’s without 2MP.


Takes more than half a season to implement everything you want to. I have no doubt that the coming off season will place importance on defensive deficiencies and we’ll be able to see that play out next year. This season has placed importance on the things we are obviously seeing we’re good at, and we’ll bring in other things over time as you expect in a developing team with a new coach.


I have an offensive question (as in goal scoring, or maybe it’s best addressed in its own thread).

Regarding Essendon’s goal scoring this season vs last year, any analysis / thoughts on where we’re scoring goals from? Closer or further out from goal?

Good work Ivan.

Overall I am less optimistic than others on our season thus far, I feel we have won a number of games from kicking accurately and the opposition missing a lot, despite being outplayed.

That being said, i do see that this is somewhat by choice, that we are defending deeper.
Turning it around to become a competent and consistent team defence has proven impossible for Essendon since the Matty Knights days, so I am still cautious in getting too excited by our wins.

I will wait until I see a weekly organised team defence between the arcs, which is arguably the most important part of footy these days (other than converting).


We definitely looking to set players up for a mark within 20m-30m of goal this year, way more than last year based on the games I’ve seen.


That’s not correct. We’ve only won one match where we had fewer shots on goal than our opponent, Carlton, and we had 1 less shot.


Yeah I think our forward line efficiency is tied to defence a little too. We aren’t forcing high volume I50 re-entries into a congested forward line. We’re getting a lot of good looks from turnovers we create at half back and then we beat the opposition numbers back into our forward line.

Being the best at scoring from centre bounces is helping too. We’re getting about 2 and half goals a week out of the middle which is leading the comp


One of the biggest gripes here were end to end goals and out the back goals.
That really hasn’t happened, so that’s a tick.
I think the progress will come naturally.


Absolutely this. It is noticeable live. Against West Coast nearly all Oscar Allen’s (absolute gun in my books) shots were 40 to 50m out on the boundary, similar to Curnow/Mackay. We concede this territory to a leading forward in order to cover, have a 3rd up, in the corridor. It only comes unstuck against the deadeye sharpshooters like Hawkins/Cameron at Geelong and the tinasses at Collingwood like Elliot/Johnson/WHE/Daicos that love kicking them out of their ass from the boundary.


So you want the players to teach themselves?

You know what - I’m kinda hoping we don’t add complexity to our defensive structure next year. Let’s wait an extra year just to be safe.