I was listening to the Ox on SEN talk about our lack of a hard edge against Collingwood. In particular he talked about Bugg as a player who would have added some intensity to the Collingwood clash. It led me to a theory on our psyche over the season.
I feel like we started the year with a fairly hard edge. Things weren't always going perfectly but we were winning contested ball and were hammering the opposition when we got the opportunity. Impressively this hard edge continued throughout the mid point of the season despite a difficult fixture and injuries to key players. Skills weren't always perfect but we were defined by our work at the contest. We were a tough team to play against.
I feel like the Sydney game saw a significant shift in our psyche which in the short term adversely affected our attack on the footy and the man and in the long term meant we lost our way. Now I don't blame Bugg. I've been around footy long enough to know that several of those look away punches are thrown every week and the fact his landed square on the jaw with devastating impact was pretty unlucky. But I think that brutal strike, the resulting six week suspension combined with earlier suspensions to Hogan, Lewis and Vince meant everyone at the Club including Goodwin felt suddenly compelled to defend the team as fair sports. I think in turn players felt subconsciously obliged to show that they were decent people on the field. All of a sudden they lost what had defined and galvanised them as a team. The hard edge, the mongrel, the intensity. I don't imagine this doubt lased more than a couple of weeks, but it seemed to lead to a mental shift from which the group couldn't recover.
I'd be interested to hear what others think of my theory. Obviously it could be a load of cheap pop psychology but having a way of explaining what I saw over the last 3rd of the season has helped me pick myself up this arvo.