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At the break of Gawn

Is play-on at all costs still the way to go?

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I saw this interesting stat last night regards to “mark play-on rate” during On the Couch. It’s important to note we were also leading this stat last year, but I can’t help but notice that the best teams this year are controlling their ball movement carefully. 

Is the play-on at all costs a winning formula still? Garry Lyon did note that the both Melbourne and Carlton have horrible forward set-ups and that rectifying this would improve this style, but I’m not 100% convinced.

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6-6-6 killed chaos and pressure footy. It rewards maintaining possession aka Hawks earlier this decade. Teams are forced to play one and one and can’t go quickly into their forward line which as much success as their forward line is now flooded... the now proven net result of the rule change. Great job AFL!

It’s also boring as batshit. As a neutral, this season has been the least enjoyable to watch in my lifetime. Scoring is down, tackling numbers are down, pressure is down, it’s proper rubbish.

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10 minutes ago, Lord Travis said:

6-6-6 killed chaos and pressure footy. It rewards maintaining possession aka Hawks earlier this decade. Teams are forced to play one and one and can’t go quickly into their forward line which as much success as their forward line is now flooded... the now proven net result of the rule change. Great job AFL!

It’s also boring as batshit. As a neutral, this season has been the least enjoyable to watch in my lifetime. Scoring is down, tackling numbers are down, pressure is down, it’s proper rubbish.

But to be fair, the 6-6-6 only applies at the centre bounce. As soon as the ball is bounced, the structures become completely the same as they used to.

I feel this is more of a copy-cat thing. Hawthorn started this (they had elite ball users), then West Coast perfected it even more. Collingwood started using it as a way to beat Richmond’s pressure. 

It feels a bit like Goody is placing all his chips on this while the rest of the table is going another way. He’s either going to be a visionary (if he gets our forward line right) or he’s mad and it’s going to go down in flames.

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It’s not the play on.  It’s the delivery of the footy. Our delivery continues to be very very poor.  Footskills are so critical to moving the ball forward and quickly.  

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The best teams have always controlled the ball, even if they played on quickly. Unfortunately for us, we tend to play on quickly and then just bomb it to a 1 on 3 contest. 🤦🏼‍♂️

When our forwards lead, our mids either refuse to lower their eyes or they fumble the ball and waste the lead. Quite a few of these fumbles are from playing on at all cost, either playing on under pressure and/or giving a crap handball that puts another player under more pressure, then causing them to bomb in hope.

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It's about knowing when to go and when to read how the game is going. Playing on at all costs can look bloody fantastic when it comes off but when your playing and handballing to someone running past they have to have someone to link that chain to. 

I feel like the best styles that we implement are whe the first few kicks in the chain are controlled with the link up players moving to position further up, I think we are lacking this first initial control as well as the execution for basic deliveries. It doesn't help that our defence is lacking in genuine quality right now, both Jetta and Salem are excellent kicks. 

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I’ve been harping on this all year. 

This is a fundamental flaw in goodwins game style and until rectified will see us languishing at the bottom. 

The best teams control the ball and will try avoid kicking to a contest. Hawthorn built a dynasty with precision controlled kicking. This affords the marking player space and time until the next possession.

Our manic ‘play on’ at all costs football is inherently risky. It predominantly involves handballs and the issue is that handballs don’t allow enough separation from opponents. The 3rd player in the chain has an opponent breathing down his neck and invariably rushes the possession. This is the reason our delivery into the forward line is atrocious and leaves us open to turnovers. 

Another stat which we would see us last is kicking backwards. Teams that control the ball will continually switch and kick backwards until they can find a free player.

 

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9 hours ago, Lord Travis said:

6-6-6 killed chaos and pressure footy. It rewards maintaining possession aka Hawks earlier this decade. 

That is simply not true. 6 6 6 has had almost no impact on the game.

Classic example of a symptom being ascribed to the wrong cause.

It is a coincidence  that  the strategy to keep possesion is becoming the dominant strategy. West Coast employed it last year, won a premiership and as always occurs others ate now following, most notably the pies who lost the grand final.

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Our 'brand' of 'chaos' football is not working because clubs have learnt to counter it:

  • Neutralise Max by: 1). double tag him eg WCE in prelim, 2). rough him up eg Port in round one or 3). opp mids rove his taps eg Hawks in last year's massacre.
  • Win the contest at stoppages then get the ball outside.  Hardwick said exactly this pre game when asked how to beat Melb.
  • Deny us the ball around the ground using the kick-mark, kick-mark control game.  If the ball doesn't come to ground our 'contested ball' game is rendered useless.  Many teams have used this technique.
  • Pressure the mids disposal to stop the i50 entries.  Our i50 numbers this year are way down.  Again many teams have woken up to this.
  • Clever exit play from our fwd 50 to stop us keeping the ball in, again not allowing our contested ball game.

In a nutshell our game plan is predictable, it has been found out and we don't have an alternative or a counter strategy.

For mine 'chaos', 'ballistic' football has a role but is fatiguing and not sustainable for 4 quarters each and every week even with a fully fit team.  It needs to be a tactic, used in a 'shock and awe' attack style not the basis of our game plan.

My concern is that the focus on injuries as reasons for our losses and appalling %age has papered over the cracks in our game plan as outlined above.  If so, no matter how many players we get back, if we don't change our game plan we won't get back to winning.

Edited by Lucifer's Hero
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We have no choice.

 

1. We have never been able to chip and maintain possession with accurate foot skills for a lengthy amount of time.  Petracca cant short pass so FCS he should be advised to go long bomb as much as possible.

 

Sport science and their restriction on set shots is the biggest farce of all time.

 

2. Our forwards have no sense of forward craft.  The amount of times we have seen Weed Melksham and TMac and co lead to the same spot smells of U/14 suburban ‘kick it to me’.

 

We have no choice but to go like Billy Stretch (chook without head) and go ballistic inside 50.

 

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9 hours ago, Males said:

The best teams have always controlled the ball, even if they played on quickly. Unfortunately for us, we tend to play on quickly and then just bomb it to a 1 on 3 contest. 🤦🏼‍♂️

When our forwards lead, our mids either refuse to lower their eyes or they fumble the ball and waste the lead. Quite a few of these fumbles are from playing on at all cost, either playing on under pressure and/or giving a crap handball that puts another player under more pressure, then causing them to bomb in hope.

Excellent Males.

You have to wonder why we are playing on so often WITHOUT ASSESSING beforehand!

IMO this is one of so many fails under Goody.  Add to this our woeful disposal skills, where we are now ranked the worst in the competition (DE%) and the lack of break away / burst speed by so many in general including the mid field (Harmes the lone exception).  Recruiting another!

Recruiting too many one paced plodders through mid field and off HB/HF (Wags bros, Lewis, Spargo, Tracc, Maynard to name a few) who are very good at the coal face (see ball get ball) but generally pretty average at escaping from congestion/working back to cover their man or space in defence and ordinary disposal skills (especially mid fielders) is now coming back to haunt us.

Other teams know this and know that if they bring the pressure one on one at the ball carrier we will play on most of the time and then (too easily vs the rest of the comp) miss a target either by hand or foot or just give it straight back.  Rated the 3rd worst here behind the Power and the Dockers in turnovers.

Playing on without assessing then turning it over is also the worst situation for us.  With a generally slow plodding team that then finds itself forward of the footy and unable to get back quickly enough to fill space or pick a loose opponent up in time to cover the rebound.  Goody finally recognised this post the Swans match with the 10 day break and adjusted to ensure we didn't push as high with our zoning/press and always had a spare deep to cover.

Our forward system as highlighted by many already is also crap.  There was a classic bit of (rare) decent play in the first half on Saturday where we managed a rare sling shot link up off HB, had someone coming through the middle under pressure, yet all forwards ran away from him towards goal.  It was so predictable i was yelling at the time "someone run at him and offer a bloody lead".  Sure enough the bail out kick fell short & shallow just inside 50.  The quicker Giants were able easily mop up, with some playing in front reading the play better, and that was the end of that rare foray/opportunity!

And as much as i love Clarry he has alot to answer for with many of those handballs.  Alot of them are lightning  handballs to a ghost player just for the sake of handballing/disposing.  Might be the two shoulder surgeries playing subconsciously here rather than taking the tackles a little more often as per pre-surgery but that's pure speculation.

There are so many aspects to our methods that don't hold up with a mark play on scenario.  Then again even if we weren't doing this so often we would probably still be struggling given the above.

Edited by Rusty Nails
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59 minutes ago, Lucifer's Hero said:

Our 'brand' of 'chaos' football is not working 

My concern is that the focus on injuries as reasons for our losses and appalling %age has papered over the cracks in our game plan as outlined above.  If so, no matter how many players we get back, if we don't change our game plan we won't get back to winning.

Don't agree. You may be proven to be correct but way too early to write off our game plan. Way too early. And impossible to make an accurate assessment with so many injured and unfit players. 

A key issue for us is so the injuries and fitness issues we struggle to negate the spread and keep possession style. Just as we did against West coast in the preliminary because we were cooked. But prior to that we  were able to neutralize that approach, most notably against the hawks, with hard running to cover the outlet and hold them up. We did the same against wc, this  year and it was instructive that it wasn't until we lost Smith and ANB (and late in the game  salem) that they were able to reestablish their game and get on top. Without those injuries our game style would have likely prevailed.

 

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I wonder whether the skills of the players are actually better than what's been on display this year.  It's just the game style causes the players to rush their disposals. 

Is we slowed our ball movement down and played with a bit more composure we may be able to hit our targets more often.

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Our kicking skills are poor. Even worse when you have close to half of your best out. 

And without reopening an old argument  - and reiterating that I respect and understand the decision - tgis is the key reason why I disagreed with the decision to trade watts. Our biggest weakness is our foot skills and we trade our best kick.

And by the by on that the Fritsch as replacement argument does not hold up. One because it assumes we could not have got fritsch without trading watts and two even if you think of fritter as a direct replacement he is nowhere near as good a kick as watts.

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Interesting thread.

GWS as the table shows is the best at the play on game.

I have seen them live being beaten on three occasions in the last twelve months and it is always by hard tackling teams who prevent the quick handball release from the pack. One of those occasions was of course the MFC win in round 23 last year.

Most would agree that GWS are incredibly talented and perhaps if they cannot pull it off it shows that it is isn't the way to go.

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We could be damned either way.  If we stay with the chaos game plan, it probably won't win us a premiership.  If we change to controlled ball movement, we've given everyone a head start.

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2 hours ago, Lucifer's Hero said:

we don't have an alternative or a counter strategy.

For mine 'chaos', 'ballistic' football has a role but is fatiguing and not sustainable for 4 quarters each and every week even with a fully fit team.  It needs to be a tactic, used in a 'shock and awe' attack style not the basis of our game plan.

My concern is that the focus on injuries as reasons for our losses and appalling %age has papered over the cracks in our game plan as outlined above.  If so, no matter how many players we get back, if we don't change our game plan we won't get back to winning.

Exhausting and taxing on an already ploddish mid field LH.

Could not agree more with this.

1 or 2 quarters at most.  Start the game with chaos sometimes.  Other times play a slow play possession style to start.  Pick your teams with which to do so as well.  The Giants had to be slow possession played a la the Hawks to counter their silky skills on the sling shots off HB.  Yet there we were bringing more of the same play on chaos as always.  Predictable as it gets.

Also playing our slowest off either wing early was also a very poor move with 666 in play and in general play.

Goody's philosophy here seems to be we are either going to crash through or crash playing OUR way, the "Melbourne Brand", regardless of what method / style our opponent brings.

This works when most of our best 22 are on the field and fitness/conditioning is right.  Neither was / is the case.  And as you say LH it is just not a sustainable way of playing the game or suited to all situations.  If you gain a decent lead you also need to possess and slow everything down to eat up the clock.  Protect your lead or ice the quarter or match.  Chaos does not offer that UNLESS most of the best are on the park and in VG form!

The injuries this season tests a coaches ability to adapt under severely changed circumstances.  Unfortunately for Goody that change up didn't occur until the match against the Hawks and by then we were too far behind the eight ball on the W/L count to gain any traction and a bit of breathing room.

Season over.  The question is how long, if at all, will it take for Goody to wake to this reality and adapt / change and drill / train for a completely different game style and focus on skills skills skills which are killing us.  He has a great opportunity to do this and have the boys practice it under live conditions in this 2nd half of the season.  A great opportunity!  Especially with some decent stock returning slowly.

Then there's the recruiting which is another subject / factor altogether.

The make up / mix at the moment is a huge fail, anywhere forward of HB with a few exceptions.  Personel / list needs a significant overhaul.

Edited by Rusty Nails
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Play on at all costs is fine if you get free players ahead of the ball and have players who can kick it to the free players, but too often our ball carriers have no one to kick to, so they kick in hope.

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17 minutes ago, Tony Tea said:

Play on at all costs is fine if you get free players ahead of the ball and have players who can kick it to the free players, but too often our ball carriers have no one to kick to, so they kick in hope.

Agree, just look back to our 6 game winning streak last year. Ball movement was precise and fluent. Hogan, T Mac ( upon returning), Melksham, were firing. Add ANB, Trac and Hannan who were a great support cast. Every player seemed to know where to run in every forward chain from the back. Lever started hitting his straps by then also. The team was very settled.

The game in Alice last year is a prime example. We had players that would turn as soon as they received and off one step would hit a target 50m down the line. Some games seemed like training runs for us. Daisy made the comment during that wonderful patch that not only did we move fast but we did learn to slow the game down too when needed. We had a good mix of fast and slow ball movement, totally different after our 2 and 3 start.

Unfortunately this season there’s been so much shuffling the deck has been worn out.

Edited by Dee Zephyr

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4 hours ago, binman said:

Don't agree. You may be proven to be correct but way too early to write off our game plan. Way too early. And impossible to make an accurate assessment with so many injured and unfit players. 

A key issue for us is so the injuries and fitness issues we struggle to negate the spread and keep possession style. Just as we did against West coast in the preliminary because we were cooked. But prior to that we  were able to neutralize that approach, most notably against the hawks, with hard running to cover the outlet and hold them up. We did the same against wc, this  year and it was instructive that it wasn't until we lost Smith and ANB (and late in the game  salem) that they were able to reestablish their game and get on top. Without those injuries our game style would have likely prevailed.

As always, respect for your views.

My assessment of where it has been countered is based on 2018, not just the injury riddled 2019 - I could have offered more 2018 examples.

For mine our 'brand' is not sustainable for 4 quarters, week in and week out.  To back up that view - in nearly every game for the last 18 months we had goalless quarters and or 5-8 unanswered goals scored against us.  I suggest this is because our guys need a breather so our momentum slows or stops. 

Maybe we can play chaos/ballistic for a few weeks eg 4 games of late 2018 but then we are cooked ie the prelim.  So my view is chaos/play on has a role as a 'shock and awe' attack tactic but not as a sustainable basis for a 22-25 week season.

Edited by Lucifer's Hero
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4 hours ago, Lucifer's Hero said:

As always, respect for your views.

My assessment of where it has been countered is based on 2018, not just the injury riddled 2019 - I could have offered more 2018 examples.

For mine our 'brand' is not sustainable for 4 quarters, week in and week out.  To back up that view - in nearly every game for the last 18 months we had goalless quarters and or 5-8 unanswered goals scored against us.  I suggest this is because our guys need a breather so our momentum slows or stops. 

Maybe we can play chaos/ballistic for a few weeks eg 4 games of late 2018 but then we are cooked ie the prelim.  So my view is chaos/play on has a role as a 'shock and awe' attack tactic but not as a sustainable basis for a 22-25 week season.

AMEN LH.  Again my question is ....when does Goody wake up to this reality?

Will we be sitting here this time again next year discussing this very issue once most of the injury concerns are no longer being used as a veil?

Edited by Rusty Nails
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7 minutes ago, Rusty Nails said:

For mine our 'brand' is not sustainable for 4 quarters, week in and week out.  To back up that view - in nearly every game for the last 18 months we had goalless quarters and or 5-8 unanswered goals scored against us.  I suggest this is because our guys need a breather so our momentum slows or stops. 

This is where we need a plan b, which we don’t appear to have? We need to learn when to slow the game down, hit targets, BY FOOT, reset and hit another target etc. I’m not as bullish about our lack of leg speed as some, you hit targets by foot consistently and you cover it.

I also believe a team looks slower when they turn the ball over constantly, players running in offence then have to stop and change to defence, now 5-10 meters behind their immediate opponent. I also believe if we slow our ball movement down and hit targets, we’d actually move the ball faster, with better delivery to our leading forwards. But I’m not a coach. 😜

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Playing on quickly is the right thing to do when there is someone ahead to play on quickly to and the player with the ball isn't about to get tackled.

Holding the ball up is the right thing to do when there is no options forward of the ball.

There is no one best way to play, there's only choosing the best option for the circumstance.

Someone wrote about this back in 2013.

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The secret to the success of play on football is for the receivers to present to the best position. Unfortunately our technique has been to play on regardless and deliver to contests.

Over time, oppositions work us out and learn to read our game (does anyone doubt what Clarrie or Viney is going to do when they play on?). Its too easy to defend.

Until our team and our game plan is settled (injuries don't help) I believe that we should limit play on to those situations where we have created an advantage. Otherwise hold the ball until a receiver makes a play.

Agree with Clint.

Edited by tiers
Overlap in timing.

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So we play on 8% more times than the Pies who are 2nd.  not massive is it?  1 more time out of 12 instances

Funny how game plans look terrible when the core group is young and there is a critical mass of injuries.  Look at GWS and the Pies.  many years with quality young teams - looked to have no game plan and missed finals. the pies at least.  then their core group of players are all 24yo + and they don't have half their team out and they look great.

my point is I reckon we need to give Goody the chance to define his own style. it worked amazingly last year when we were the highest scoring team. give him time to refine the plan with at least 70% of his team available.  hopefully he is a genius who is working towards leading the next big trend in footy rather than trying to catch up with the current one

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