After starting the season in spectacular form, sitting equal first on the ladder after Round 5, Geelong’s sudden fall from grace has left many wondering what has gone so wrong.
After wins against Fremantle, North, Melbourne, Hawthorn and St Kilda, things were looking bright at Kardinia Park. Conversely, the last three rounds have been immensely disappointing, containing losses to Collingwood, Gold Coast and Essendon.
While there is no need to overreact to an early season bout of poor form, the incredibly close nature of the league this year means that the Cats need to correct quickly if they want to remain in contention for the top four.
Coach Chris Scott is clearly aware of the situation at hand, commenting after their loss to the Bombers: “For the third week in a row it was a really, really poor performance that we’ve got to stop talking about as being uncharacteristic because it is what we are right at the moment,”.
While there aren’t any glaring errors in Geelong’s style of play, there are a few patterns emerging from this sudden string of losses.
Scott commented bluntly after the third loss in a row: “We’re really clear we haven’t been defending well.”
This is shown evidently in the stats with the Cats conceding the most points of any team in the top eight, an average of 95 points per game.
Chris Scott clearly wasn’t in the mood to reveal much else, saying: “I’m not in the business of walking you through exactly why that’s happening, but we’re really clear internally on what we need to do to fix it.”
He then went on to elaborate a little further: “Sometimes I talk about the complexities of the game. We don’t even get anywhere near the complexities before we run into problems we’ve got to fix at the moment. They’re fundamentals; they’re pretty simple.”
One of those fundamentals that the Cats are failing in at the moment is tackling, a basic KPI across all clubs at all levels of football.
Currently ranked 16th in the competition for tackles per game, they have been unable to keep the pressure on the opposition for extended periods of time.
This is plainly shown in their loss to the Bombers, losing the tackle count 81 to 40, with an abysmal 13 tackles in the second half.
This statistic might seem more acceptable if the Cats had been controlling the ball much more than their opposition, causing them to have less opportunities to tackle.
However this simply isn’t the case – over this first eight games, Geelong have had the fourth most disposals and third most handballs against them.
The players have been provided with plenty of opportunity, but have not risen to the occasion.
Luckily for Geelong, this problem should be simple to fix, a problem just as much about mindset and intent as physical capability.
But there is no time to waste. The situation was summed up perfectly by Chris Scott, saying this: “We need to turn it around quickly.”