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Have we been worked out?



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The Doggies game was an interesting tactically because a few clear tactics were deployed by the Doggies which were the cumulative effort of a number of teams studying our tape.  What was clear was that this was a departure from the usual Doggies game plan (although there midfield emphasis was still there) - so it was not as some pundits like to say "them backing in their system against ours".  What becamb e clear is that our system is not perfect (which is of course impossible) - and that there are certain tradeoffs that necessarily exist, which the Doggies were able to target. 

Here's what I picked up, but I'd be interested in what other DL'ers (especially those at the ground) were able to glean.

1. Targeting Gawn down the line, in D50, F50: a work on for our heroic leader is his body language when under adversity. It must be deflating to not have free kicks called in your favour week after week, but it helps noones case to "plead" with the umpires as if they'll change their decision.  It is also a poor leadership example for other players.  The Doggies clearly targeted Max with blocking, holding and chopping at the three critical points Max tries to insert himself.  In the hole, down the line, and drifting forward.  Bontempelli in one hillarious example just straight up pushed Max over, while English was only penalised once for the holding, and pulling on shoulders that happened to Max all game.  Some DL'ers will remember what Port Adelaide did to Max in Rd 1 2019 - and this remains a weakness for him. Either we start blocking for Max, or we watch his contested marking potency reduce. 

2. Sharking the first handball: teams have worked out that Melbourne's midfield is searching for "clean" exits from stoppage - in particular out the front.  The Doggies sat off Melb midfielders - and waited for the handball rather than be drawn into making the tackle and therefore creating the space.  This removes Petracca and Oliver's strength in being able to offload through tackles and create outnumbers and "negative space" outside the contest.  Put another way, by clogging the outer ring of the stoppage with bodies, rather than creating a "nucleus" effect, you negate our ability to exit clean from stoppage. 

3. Low hard bullet kicks - the Doggies have the players to try it and the reality is it worked. If it didn't come off it created a 50/50 groundball which they were able to split.  If it did it reduced our ability to have third man up, and or use our zone to create intercept opportunities.  In the absence of turnover on HB, we were deprived of one of our main scoring avenues. 

4. Play fast and draw Melbourne into shooutout open styles, including switching the play to "open" the corridor.  Hawthorn first showed that by taking us on through the middle, you can "draw" in our zone to the centred focal point of the corridor, then creating space behind it at the edge of F50, or in more dangerous areas. The constant switching forces the hard running Melbourne players to work laterally and (because they are zoned off players) to naturally give up a corridor advantage to the fat-side of their opponent player.  Bailey Dale was able to exploit this "zone" of offence on a number of occasions, and once it was centred - the Doggies were able to get deep entries into f50, and win territory. 

5. Exiting d50 - our predictable exit strategy out of d50 is well and truly worked out now. As people note, predictability is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, it's becoming clear that what we are really lacking is run off HB when exiting d50.  Our HB line and FB line if full of very good field kicks (May brainfades excluded) - but if point 1. is not working (ie contested potenncy down the line is reduced) we should have a second method of exiting d50.  If you study the way the Dogs transition from d50 to midfield and then into f50, this should provide a template for the way that the Dees can switch strategically. Run and carry from this part of the ground, may prevent defences sitting goalside of the contest down the line - attempting to create a re-entry. Ofc this will not happen (Hunt/Baker) these sort of players aren't in our squad and we prefer to maintain a structured defence - and let the ball do the hard work travelling up field. 

 

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26 minutes ago, Altona-demon said:

The Doggies game was an interesting tactically because a few clear tactics were deployed by the Doggies which were the cumulative effort of a number of teams studying our tape.  What was clear was that this was a departure from the usual Doggies game plan (although there midfield emphasis was still there) - so it was not as some pundits like to say "them backing in their system against ours".  What becamb e clear is that our system is not perfect (which is of course impossible) - and that there are certain tradeoffs that necessarily exist, which the Doggies were able to target. 

Here's what I picked up, but I'd be interested in what other DL'ers (especially those at the ground) were able to glean.

1. Targeting Gawn down the line, in D50, F50: a work on for our heroic leader is his body language when under adversity. It must be deflating to not have free kicks called in your favour week after week, but it helps noones case to "plead" with the umpires as if they'll change their decision.  It is also a poor leadership example for other players.  The Doggies clearly targeted Max with blocking, holding and chopping at the three critical points Max tries to insert himself.  In the hole, down the line, and drifting forward.  Bontempelli in one hillarious example just straight up pushed Max over, while English was only penalised once for the holding, and pulling on shoulders that happened to Max all game.  Some DL'ers will remember what Port Adelaide did to Max in Rd 1 2019 - and this remains a weakness for him. Either we start blocking for Max, or we watch his contested marking potency reduce. 

2. Sharking the first handball: teams have worked out that Melbourne's midfield is searching for "clean" exits from stoppage - in particular out the front.  The Doggies sat off Melb midfielders - and waited for the handball rather than be drawn into making the tackle and therefore creating the space.  This removes Petracca and Oliver's strength in being able to offload through tackles and create outnumbers and "negative space" outside the contest.  Put another way, by clogging the outer ring of the stoppage with bodies, rather than creating a "nucleus" effect, you negate our ability to exit clean from stoppage. 

3. Low hard bullet kicks - the Doggies have the players to try it and the reality is it worked. If it didn't come off it created a 50/50 groundball which they were able to split.  If it did it reduced our ability to have third man up, and or use our zone to create intercept opportunities.  In the absence of turnover on HB, we were deprived of one of our main scoring avenues. 

4. Play fast and draw Melbourne into shooutout open styles, including switching the play to "open" the corridor.  Hawthorn first showed that by taking us on through the middle, you can "draw" in our zone to the centred focal point of the corridor, then creating space behind it at the edge of F50, or in more dangerous areas. The constant switching forces the hard running Melbourne players to work laterally and (because they are zoned off players) to naturally give up a corridor advantage to the fat-side of their opponent player.  Bailey Dale was able to exploit this "zone" of offence on a number of occasions, and once it was centred - the Doggies were able to get deep entries into f50, and win territory. 

5. Exiting d50 - our predictable exit strategy out of d50 is well and truly worked out now. As people note, predictability is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, it's becoming clear that what we are really lacking is run off HB when exiting d50.  Our HB line and FB line if full of very good field kicks (May brainfades excluded) - but if point 1. is not working (ie contested potenncy down the line is reduced) we should have a second method of exiting d50.  If you study the way the Dogs transition from d50 to midfield and then into f50, this should provide a template for the way that the Dees can switch strategically. Run and carry from this part of the ground, may prevent defences sitting goalside of the contest down the line - attempting to create a re-entry. Ofc this will not happen (Hunt/Baker) these sort of players aren't in our squad and we prefer to maintain a structured defence - and let the ball do the hard work travelling up field. 

 

Well thought out post.

Our answer seems to be, we are not doing what we should be, for long enough and well enough, when we lose.

 

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29 minutes ago, Altona-demon said:

2. Sharking the first handball: teams have worked out that Melbourne's midfield is searching for "clean" exits from stoppage - in particular out the front.  The Doggies sat off Melb midfielders - and waited for the handball rather than be drawn into making the tackle and therefore creating the space.  This removes Petracca and Oliver's strength in being able to offload through tackles and create outnumbers and "negative space" outside the contest.  Put another way, by clogging the outer ring of the stoppage with bodies, rather than creating a "nucleus" effect, you negate our ability to exit clean from stoppage. 

 

This is very interesting and combined with being a little off in our own gameplan, is a big reason we have been brought back to the pack. Hopefully we can work it out and counter before its too late.

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I don't think we have been worked out, per se.

But every coach tries things.  Some we are able to counter in game some we aren't and learn from them until next time they are used.  With each tactic that looks successful the next coach will try it or a variant of it.

In the bulldogs game they drew on the Hawks tactic of running with Langdon, Adelaide's attacking the corridor, Sydney's coralling our clearance players at stoppages, Geelong's avoiding Max etc

An example is the bulldogs played Bailey Williams as a loose tag on Langdon.  Williams is 7cm taller and a fair bit heavier than Langdon.  They often used Williams as the exit kick from our fwd 50 and by using their bullet passes were able to move the ball quickly through the corridor,  Then they made sure they kicked it to where Max wasn't.

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Our system holds up very, very well if the players have the fitness base to execute on it. Interesting to note that if they blew the siren at 3/4 time over the last 8 rounds we’d have lost 2 games for the entire season. Not to turn every topic into a discussion about training loads - but in my opinion it proves we haven’t been ‘worked out’, we are being ‘out worked’ late in games. 

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9 minutes ago, The heart beats true said:

Our system holds up very, very well if the players have the fitness base to execute on it. Interesting to note that if they blew the siren at 3/4 time over the last 8 rounds we’d have lost 2 games for the entire season. Not to turn every topic into a discussion about training loads - but in my opinion it proves we haven’t been ‘worked out’, we are being ‘out worked’ late in games. 

absolutely correct. I felt we looked to be getting back to our Grand Final form on Saturday but a few silly mistakes cost us - and yes we have a lot more sore players than same time last year.

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We expected to be the hunted post flag and all of your points are valid and great observations.

What we can control and is totally unacceptable is we had zero, nada, not one inside 50 tackle. Last season and on occasions this season we have locked the ball in the forward line and never let it out. This is why a team kicks 110 points against us. Lloy got it right when he noticed in the last play that Fritch chose not to get ahead of Kumis and pointed for someone to come forward and do his job which left the numbers down back limited. Teams that go wide and switch play do so because we don't block that gap and let teams advance the other side unchecked hoping to intercept at halfback.

The most damning is the continued down-the-line kick out to the walls and inability to switch or run a ball out of defence.

What gets me if it is obvious to us supporters it is certainly down in the how-to-beat Melbourne manual at all clubs. What on earth is our brains trust doing?

Bring your mouthguard to training this week and be prepared to tackle or face oblivion

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1 minute ago, Older demon said:

We expected to be the hunted post flag and all of your points are valid and great observations.

What we can control and is totally unacceptable is we had zero, nada, not one inside 50 tackle. Last season and on occasions this season we have locked the ball in the forward line and never let it out. This is why a team kicks 110 points against us. Lloy got it right when he noticed in the last play that Fritch chose not to get ahead of Kumis and pointed for someone to come forward and do his job which left the numbers down back limited. Teams that go wide and switch play do so because we don't block that gap and let teams advance the other side unchecked hoping to intercept at halfback.

The most damning is the continued down-the-line kick out to the walls and inability to switch or run a ball out of defence.

What gets me if it is obvious to us supporters it is certainly down in the how-to-beat Melbourne manual at all clubs. What on earth is our brains trust doing?

Bring your mouthguard to training this week and be prepared to tackle or face oblivion

I could go out on the oval with a spray can and mark exactly where May will punt the ball pre game every time, now that is a ludicrous set play.

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I don't think we rely on secrets to win, we rely on executing our game plan so well that other teams can't win regardless. In the case of the down the line kick, this has been done to death. It is a high percentage, low risk play. It only fails for us when we are unable to get the players positioned well at the fall of the ball if the mark fails. It beggars belief that people think that Goody and co don't know other teams know what we are going to do on kick out. They know, the strategy works anyway - most of the time. i won't be surprised if we see some different exit strategies if we get desperate during finals but I don't expect to see us telegraphing that sort of change now.

With respect to the centre bounce, they can either lag off, play a sweeper and control the outer ring or they can shark aggressively and compete in the inner ring, they can't do both. We have strategies for breaking down both those tactics, they very often involve driving hard with the legs and changing direction via handball. I also think people underestimate just how good Max is at directing the tap.

I was really impressed with what the doggies did with the low flat passes into the forward 50. We will definitely take a look at that, more pressure on the ball carrier will reduce that but I think it is an effective tactic when executed well. I think we could improve our own forward 50 entries using it.

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I agree that certain elements of our finals winning style of game crept back into our game on Saturday. One of them is scores from centre stoppage. We scored a total of 6 goals (afl average is 2 goals). You can't necessarily 'work that out', that is just sheer brilliance from Maxi and our mids.

Add into that our forward pressure turnover game there's another 40 points scored.

As for our defence, our two way running full team defence has been struggling lately but I have no doubt that we can patch that up if we can remain injury-free over the next 2 months and our fitness can be reattained.

What you're left with is a pretty impressive offence with two powerful avenues to goal plus our solid team defence which can usually keep a team to 9-10 goals, 9 out of 10 times we win with this formula.

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8 minutes ago, Deenooos_ said:

I agree that certain elements of our finals winning style of game crept back into our game on Saturday. One of them is scores from centre stoppage. We scored a total of 6 goals (afl average is 2 goals). You can't necessarily 'work that out', that is just sheer brilliance from Maxi and our mids.

Add into that our forward pressure turnover game there's another 40 points scored.

As for our defence, our two way running full team defence has been struggling lately but I have no doubt that we can patch that up if we can remain injury-free over the next 2 months and our fitness can be reattained.

What you're left with is a pretty impressive offence with two powerful avenues to goal plus our solid team defence which can usually keep a team to 9-10 goals, 9 out of 10 times we win with this formula.

Enjoying your considered contributions...welcome aboard.

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Our pressure game sets all other aspects of our game up, the backs can get higher up the ground and make the ground smaller, we get turnovers in our half which enables our forward line to kick goals - we don’t have a forward line built for slow build up and transition. They are designed for rapid movement from turnover that their pressure causes. The alchemy isn’t there this year. I think it is a lack of discipline to structure for enough of the game. 

And that is where the other teams are cutting through us and putting our defenders under pressure that they are not built for. All it takes is one or two in the wrong spot in that Demon web and they are in the corridor with runners beside them.

We were the best without the footy last year, and we aren’t anymore. 

There are a number of reasons/excuses for that. Form and adherence to structure, and also health and consistency - back to backs are so hard in the modern game because this group has not played 26 week season and backed it up for another 26 week season. It’s tough. And those carrying knocks this year for long periods are at least Lever, Salem, Petracca, Rivers, Hibberd, Brown, and Petty; that’s a fair group of players.

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1 hour ago, The heart beats true said:

Our system holds up very, very well if the players have the fitness base to execute on it. Interesting to note that if they blew the siren at 3/4 time over the last 8 rounds we’d have lost 2 games for the entire season. Not to turn every topic into a discussion about training loads - but in my opinion it proves we haven’t been ‘worked out’, we are being ‘out worked’ late in games. 

I'm just hoping it has a lot more to do with training loads and less to do with mentality and confidence. 

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Not being able to lock the ball in our forward half is not a tactic that teams have exploited- its a failing from us.

If you win out of the centre, charge forward and the kick missing a target, then comes back easily- no backline can hold up.

I think we need a much hungrier and ruthless attitude. Need to change the forward mix 

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We have been worked out to an extent and that is not a bad thing. Nor was it unexpected.

There were moments even in our losses last season where commentators and pundits were saying you’d be better off trying to take the game on against Melbourne with quick ball movement and chaining through the middle as opposed to just bombing in every two seconds so May, Lever and Petty can mop up. There were also plenty who knew that if there was a chink in our otherwise brilliant backline it was that opposition teams may have found fortune in the ground ball game and getting looks at goal that way. Again this is not new stuff.

The game style relies on massive amounts of pressure, if it’s a little off then teams are a chance against us plain and simple. If it’s on then a team like the Dogs may get some fortune throughout the game and some scoring but I’d say we still have the answers and pull away in the end.

It would be silly to think that opposition coaches weren’t going to microscope us this year, it would be even sillier for our coaches to think that they weren’t going to do this and just keep doing the same old things against us. We knew it was coming and this is where we have to come up with our answer to that. So to answer your question yes we have been worked out to an extent because there is more film out on us but this doesn’t mean that our current game plan is dead in the water either. I’m also not saying there shouldn’t be little tweaks made here and there but overall it’s a pretty darn good system that has got us to this point in a premiership defence year. We just need to be bringing pressure and executing a bit more when it matters.

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They also, like Freo and Syd, made a concerted effort to attack some on on one's against us, in positions where most coaches hate to open themselves up to the ball potentially rebounding (e.g. kick ins and the centre corridor). It's a good tactic against a well drilled 'system' team that does not have great depth in terms of contest winners. We can be timid and weak in marking contests, which is masked by the fact that we structure up in a way to get 3 up in most contests. When we don't have a numbers advantage, teams are exposing us in the air, and also working harder to get to the full of those aerial contests.

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1 hour ago, FlashInThePan said:

I don't think we rely on secrets to win, we rely on executing our game plan so well that other teams can't win regardless. In the case of the down the line kick, this has been done to death. It is a high percentage, low risk play. It only fails for us when we are unable to get the players positioned well at the fall of the ball if the mark fails.

Geelong worked it out. Each time May kicked out they  smashed the ball forward to avoid our crumbers at the drop. Their players were waiting several metres back from the contest and they swept it away time and again.

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2 minutes ago, jnrmac said:

Geelong worked it out. Each time May kicked out they  smashed the ball forward to avoid our crumbers at the drop. Their players were waiting several metres back from the contest and they swept it away time and again.

This is on the money - I was at the game, and you could see them set up for the kick.  Honestly, it's that predictable that teams are setting up for it now. 

People are making a large amount about the lack of f50 tackles by our forwards.  These tackles are a direct result of splitting aerial contests - if you think it through it's hard to tackle a player in AFL unless you are in close proximity to that player.  Close proximity occurs in two scenarios in AFL - stoppage, and crumbing situations.  The reality was that we were repeatedly unable to bring the ball to ground in predictable ways for our crumbers to either win possession or make tackles.  That fault has to lie a lot with Sam Weideman, as this is his role when playing forward of the ball in our system. It's also the main reason why he doesn't look good in our system - i've no doubt in a different (say Carlton model) he would look a lot better. 

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44 minutes ago, layzie said:

We have been worked out to an extent and that is not a bad thing. Nor was it unexpected.

Money quote. There's not a person in the Demons footy brains-trust who would not have expected most sides in the comp to come up with tactics to counter Melbourne. They only needed to look to what Clarko did in our draw last year to see that the Hawks pushed up to deny us space around the ball. (The Dogs would have kicked themselves after the GF.) And things like dart passes into our Back50 are bread and jam for sides who want to break up and spread out our zones. (Apparently our pressure is way down on last year, which has enabled opponents to pick us apart.)

The key is: What are we going to do about it? We don't appear to have done a lot so far, but I live in hope we have something up our collective sleeve.

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16 minutes ago, Altona-demon said:

This is on the money - I was at the game, and you could see them set up for the kick.  Honestly, it's that predictable that teams are setting up for it now. 

I give thanks to the Cats for putting their cards on the table in the H&A season. Would we do the same kick outs in a final?

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It’s funny how we solve one problem but then another one pops up. A month ago it was all about our forward connection and our lack of pressure inside 50. We’ve sort of fixed that up with a smaller forward line but now our defence is looking shaky.

I for one think Max needs to start to become a bit more accountable for his man rather than fill in the hole. He needs to decide when to go and impact the contest or when he can’t (Jackson included).

I’ll also point out that both of our most recent losses have been on smaller grounds where he can’t use the full width like we like to.

For me the real test is how we play against the next three weeks. Optus and MCG games are where we are best. If we can’t get it right then it’s good night on 2022.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Lucifers Hero said:

I don't think we have been worked out, per se.

But every coach tries things.  Some we are able to counter in game some we aren't and learn from them until next time they are used.  With each tactic that looks successful the next coach will try it or a variant of it.

In the bulldogs game they drew on the Hawks tactic of running with Langdon, Adelaide's attacking the corridor, Sydney's coralling our clearance players at stoppages, Geelong's avoiding Max etc

An example is the bulldogs played Bailey Williams as a loose tag on Langdon.  Williams is 7cm taller and a fair bit heavier than Langdon.  They often used Williams as the exit kick from our fwd 50 and by using their bullet passes were able to move the ball quickly through the corridor,  Then they made sure they kicked it to where Max wasn't.

Agree with your thoughts LH, they clearly targeted Langers as an exit strategy from kick ins so the next time will be prepared for such things.

We are getting great looks at all our competitors plans against us which i think is a great thing for our preparations for the finals. 

Will be curious to see if all these strategies that have been put in place against us stand up against a Melbourne side with high arousal levels in September.

 

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