Robert Shaw 2018 Preview

This is good, especially paragraph 1

AFL Season 2018 EssendonFC Preview
shawryanalyst Uncategorized March 19, 2018 5 Minutes

Whilst membership grows and executives extol the initiatives, growth of new markets and look to India and China, Essendon enters its 15th year without a finals win. Why, we also have an eSports team! We are the worst performed Victorian team in that period. We were relegated to that position by Richmond! Essendon people have every right to demand a winning team. There are messages about positivity, strength and stability. Fine virtues, I am sure. I’m all for expanding the business and strengthening the club. Essendon people want their footy meal served tough. With clean air, a couple of years under the belt and a gift of talent in terms of Saad, Smith and Stringer, Essendon must return to the true heart of the matter: the Core Business of Football.

Talent guarantees nothing.

Did Richmond or the Bulldogs win premierships on pure talent? Hardly! Great use of personnel, the sophistication of their coaching and game day dynamics, good and timely decisions from the coaches’ box (Graham onto Sloane in GF) and above all, Richmond had a pressure rating of 196. Their season average was 183. In the final they generated 31 forward intercepts and scored 53 points from the turnovers. That’s half their score from forward pressure. Essendon are in the bottom six in this critical gauge of effectiveness.


Talent wise there is no discussion. Adrian Dodoro knocks on John Worsfold’s door and introduces Devon Smith, Ahmed Saad and Jake Stringer. He has Joe Daniher, Zac Merrett, Dyson Heppell and Michael Hurley, Fantasia, McDonald-Tippunwuti, McGrath, Parish and Zaharakis.
Their scoring power when effective is multi-talented in both talls and super effective smalls.
Ball movement can be breathtaking and rebound scintillating off half back. Saad and McKenna are daring.
If their team has the correct balance they are extremely quick. They will embarrass teams with their pace at times.
This is a big oneand puts great onus on the coaches to promote and develop this talent: Essendon has the No.1 ranked under 25 group in the country. Above thatof GWS who had the luxury of drafted talent.
No excuses with experience. The youth excuse is out the window. Essendon have 20 players who have played 50-199 games- the third most of any club.
They have the greatest returns from the Inside 50’s than any other club. But they average in the 40’s. They are indirect and need to get the ball inside 50 more. Mid 50 inside 50 coupled with efficiency will provide great scoreboard pressure.
Areas of improvement.

Essendon do not have an intercept mark in the backline. The likes of Gibson, Lever, Rance, Wood, Johnson ( Freo) Taylor (Geelong), Tarrant ( North) show the effectiveness of this. They are critical given the way the game is played. Because Hooker has gone forward it means Hurley is ‘forced ‘ to man up tighter. IF he and Hooker shared this role Essendon would have the best intercept marks in the comp. With Stringer, Daniher and Stewart up forward will Hooker go back? The debate continues, but Essendon need a class interceptor.
2nd worst team in the comp (behind Brisbane) with turnovers coming off half back.
17th in clearances
Bottom 6 for tackles
Bottom 6 contested ball
And…Critically bottom 4 for % time ball stays in forward line. (Meaning they never allow midfield the luxury to set up and defend the opposition transition.)

NB. Last year Essendon made the 8 despite these poor numbers in critical areas. They got thrashed in the Sydney final because of them. If they fix these areas, say 30-50% improvement, they make the top 4. That’s what preseason’s and coaching is all about; Teach-Learn-Improve.

Question marks

Can they handle pressure? Can they sustain pressure on the opposition?
Is this what you want said about your team? In a recent article in the Herald Sun Footy Preview it was noted that: “Essendon will play a bit of AFLX in the season proper”.
Can their defensive actions improve to meet the requirements of a top 4 teams? The last 3 premiers Hawthorn, West Bulldogs and Richmond made this a primary focus and selected sides accordingly.
There is a case to suggest that Essendon ‘break and spread’ too early from contests so as to get the ball on the outside and use the width of the ground. This ‘make the ground bigger’ philosophy is too easily cut off as exit points for ball distribution, particularly off HBF, can be cut off. Can Essendon minimise turnovers off HBF?
Will Essendon tag at critical stages of the year? “Cut the head off the snake’. First year player Jack Graham goes to a rampant Rory Sloane in the Grand Final. For example, Essendon allow Kelly (38), Hill (37) and Zorko (30) to flourish resulting in lost games from winnable positions. Together with the Carlton and earlier Sydney game it equates to an additional 5 games the Dons could’ve won. That puts a significant new slant on ladder position and premiership opportunity. I’ll expand; in Round 14 GWS held Dane Zorko to 5 disposals. Essendon chose not to follow up and pressure him the next week at Etihad. He had 30, 8 tackles, 7 clearances and 2 goals. Brisbane beat Essendon.
Hypothetical. If Essendon had a quality big bodied midfielder such as Carlton’s Patrick Cripps, would they win the premiership? More likely than not. Extra big bodies in the centre square would certainly help.
Can Stringer go through the midfield? Anyone can ‘go through the midfield’ but it’s such a specialist area that handy pinch hitters are rarely a success. He’s far from a natural and needs more than a pre-season or a few games. You just don’t ‘become a midfielder’ in this complex area. 3rd tall inside 50 with occasional runs on ball to break up Essendon’s tactical balance.
Defence or being defensive? People get it confused. In the finals these are the scores kicked against the Tigers. 5.10.40 (Geelong) , 9.13.67 (GWS) and 8.12.60 (Adelaide). The Tigers kicked over 100 points twice and 91 points in the other game. That’s not defensive; that’s great defence and lessons need to be learned. It can’t be exhilarating one way (attack) and inexcusable the other (defence).
John Worsfold- John has righted the ship through troubled waters. A superb job of balance and stability. He has now been presented with outstandingtalent. However, there is no rush to sign- in my opinion. John’s not going anywhere, nor do we want him to. Just assess the season after 12 rounds and sign according to three criteria:

1.Improvement/ladder position of the team

2.Sustainability of game plan; and

3.Development of individual players. Maximise talent at disposal. Then everyone’s a winner!

Ladder position

Bottom of the 8 if reliant on talent factor alone because they will win enough games
Top 4-6 if Essendon coaches are able to improve areas of weakness from last year by 50%.

Key Theme

Defensive Integrity

Robert Shaw 19/3/2018


Essendon “coaches” being the operative word

Very good by Shawy as always!

Can’t argue with any of that.


It’s written in rather a shorthand style but what he says is clearly correct. We’re short a top-class big-bodied midfielder and a really solid tall key defender. I just can’t see where that midfielder is coming from this year; and although Hooker could be the defender, playing him there would leave us light in attack.

That said, real pressure all over the ground, all the time, can cover personnel weaknesses.

who the fark is ahmed saad?

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Mr and Mrs Saad’s son

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Played footy for Saints, tested positive to some Mickey Mouse drugs.

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Thanks for clearing that up

Had the straightest and longest run up in history

Had the equivalent to a Red Bull before a game or something from memory.

Was a joke.

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Yeah I remember it being some sort of energy drink. Don’t remember much about his comeback but I think he was rookie listed by the Saints.

Until Ben Brown. Now there is a long and straight run up.

Saad was long and straight but most of all excruciatingly fkg slow

Saad made the most of the rule being timed until you start your runup. Did his shoelaces about halfway in.

AFL tribunal gave Saad 18 months, ASADA lost appeal to AFL appeals tribunal to extend it to 2 years. No appeal by WADA.

Very good article as always

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Pretty spot on.

And was possibly worse below his knees than Colyer

Everything he said was right on the money.

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Michael Symons gave Saad and Brown both a good run for their money. Plus he was the original.


Not moving Hooker back leaves us lighter in Defense than it would up forward if he goes back in my opinion. I think they need to at least try it. Especially now Ambrose is out. Gives Stewart a big opportunity to make a name for himself.