I think we’re entering an interesting period in the evolution of the competition where we’re starting to see teams playing with fundamentally different philosophies and ‘gameplans’. This has been happening for a lot longer in sports like soccer, and I think it will take a while for the hyperbole around which style is ‘better’ to dial down.
In terms of the Bulldogs/Richmond success, they both definitely ran non-traditional ‘small ball’ forward lines, however they also had the benefit of exceptionally talented, and, most importantly, deep midfields. A side that attempts to mimic these styles of play with out a stacked midfield will find themselves posting scores that would make Ross Lyon cringe.
There’s nothing wrong with playing a tall forwardline, you just need your talls to produce, the same as any other position. It wasn’t the gameplans fault that big Tex decided to repeatedly lead with only one hand extended.
That said, I think a potential take away is that you’re better off with a below average small/medium forward than a below average tall forward. At least the little guy can tackle and keep the opposition honest.