Prior to the start of season 2021, I wrote an article pertaining to each AFL team’s burning question for season 2021.
It’s an interesting task to see what that article looks like in hindsight.
Adelaide Crows: Will Matthew Nicks make it as a coach?
The Crows are building something. They appear to have a good culture from the outside looking in. They’ve already eclipsed the amount of wins they had in season 2020, as they have won four games in season 2021. Matthew Nicks appears to be calm and composed in the coach’s box and those qualities appear to be resonating with the players. Taylor Walker’s resurgence in season 2021 is proof that the Crows should stick with Nicks for the time being.
Brisbane Lions: What impact will Joe Daniher have and letting Stefan Martin be traded to the Western Bulldogs have?
The jury is still out on whether the Lions made the right decisions at the trade table. It’s a bit difficult to assess whether the Lions made the correct decision in recruiting Joe Daniher to the footy club. He needs to kick more goals, despite averaging 6.17 score involvements per game. Oscar McInerney is flourishing as the Lions’ number one ruckman, due to Stefan Martin being traded.
Carlton Blues: Is it worth re-signing Patrick Cripps?
Patrick Cripps could be part of the problem at the Blues. He doesn’t appear to put his body on the line, compared to the manner in which a former Blues player Mitch Robinson does for the Lions. For some reason he is a player that receives plenty of media hype, but barely any criticism.
Collingwood Magpies: How much would they miss their mids?
How big a loss will it be to lose two midfielders of a high calibre, who were traded from the team: Tom Phillips to the Hawthorn Hawks and Adam Treloar to the Western Bulldogs? The Magpies are rebuilding so perhaps letting the players go from the team was the right decision. Despite that they have only won three games. They have had plenty of honourable losses and made the tough choice of dropping Mason Cox, which was the right call.
Essendon Bombers: Will the succession plan work?
There’s no doubt that the succession plan will work. Nothing seems to faze Ben Rutten. Most importantly the team is playing a good brand of footy. Who would’ve thought at the start of season 2021 that Darcy Parish may win the Brownlow Medal. It’s amazing what Nick Hind and captain Dyson Heppell have done off half back as they have provided plenty of run out of defence. Moving Cale Hooker forward has been a master stroke.
Fremantle Dockers: Will the Fremantle Dockers make the top eight?
The Dockers probably won’t make the top eight in season 2021 and they don’t have to. They have been forced to endure a horrible run with players being injured. Despite the fact that footy is largely a results-driven sport, the Dockers showed they are building something in a character-building loss to the Western Bulldogs last weekend in Round 12. There are definitely more positives than negatives when it comes to analysing the Dockers’ season.
Geelong Cats: Do the Cats need to move the magnets around?
On paper the Cats don’t need to move the magnets around, but if they want to be challenging for the premiership, they do. They should move Brandan Parfitt into the midfield on a permanent basis. There’s no doubt that Patrick Dangerfield should play as a permanent forward as they have been winning without him. They could use Jack Henry and/or Lachie Henderson to pinch hit up forward, while Tom Hawkins is in the ruck.
Gold Coast Suns: Are the Gold Coast Suns worthy of being a part of the AFL?
They may have won four games out of 11, but the jury’s still out as to whether they deserve to be a part of the AFL. They have been decimated by injuries. Despite that, they need to get some more wins on the board and feature in the finals in the next couple of years as that would be a massive boost to vindicating why they warrant a spot in the competition.
Greater Western Sydney Giants: Do they rely on too few to get the job done?
The Giants’ depth has been tested and it has stood up, without doubt. Remarkably, they have five wins out of 11 matches, which is outstanding given they have had plenty of injuries. They have a good mix between experience and youth. They have one ruckman, who’s a ruck coach in Shane Mumford who’s played due to injuries, and another in Matthew Flynn who appears to be a prodigious talent.
Hawthorn Hawks: What mode are the Hawks in, are they regenerating or aiming to play finals?
It’s clear that the Hawks are regenerating and that it’s going to take time for them to rebuild. Despite that, the likes of Mitchell Lewis and Jacob Koschitzke appear to have the potential to be the best tall forward combination in the game for years to come. The fact that the Hawks have only won two games would be a concern, given they recruited experienced players in Kyle Hartigan from the Crows and Tom Phillips from the Magpies. Whether Alastair Clarkson is the right coach moving forward remains a question, as it may be time for a change.
Melbourne Demons: Was it worth recruiting Ben Brown and does Max Gawn need some help in the ruck?
In this case I was clever in hindsight. There’s no doubt that recruiting Ben Brown to the club was the wrong decision from the Demons. The only argument would be that the likes of Tom McDonald, who plays as a key forward, would be kept on his toes as Ben Brown is waiting in the wings should McDonald have a form slump. Max Gawn is in All Australian form and has a good back-up ruckman in Luke Jackson.
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Will they be pushing for the wooden spoon again?
There’s no doubt that the Kangaroos have plenty of issues and coach David Noble has got off lightly as far as being criticised as far as a lack of purpose, a system and a game plan is concerned and they will probably finish last.
Port Adelaide Power: Was signing Ken Hinkley the right decision?
The re-signing of Ken Hinkley was probably the right decision, as some games they are outstanding and other weeks they are below par.
Richmond Tigers: Have the Tigers done enough to regenerate?
The Tigers have proved me wrong. They have regenerated and are being forced to do so due to key players being injured. Their injury toll has been enormous. All Damien Hardwick wants his players to do is simply play their role, which means players can seamlessly slot into the team.
St Kilda Saints: Will Brett Ratten be the best coach never to coach a premiership?
Ratten has had some bad luck with players failing to take their opportunities and not performing to their optimum level. He has some work to do in order to be held in such high esteem as the best coach never to coach a premiership.
Sydney Swans: Will the Swans deliver on their potential?
It’s difficult to say whether they will as they sit sixth on the AFL ladder as it stands. In Round 3 they beat Richmond by 45 points without Lance Franklin. Are they a better team structurally without him? It’s tough to say. There’s no doubt they look a more formidable team on paper with Franklin in the team, but he should be managed and miss some games to give the forward line a different mix.
West Coast Eagles: Should the Eagles be contenders?
The Eagles shouldn’t be considered contenders in season 2021. They sit seventh on the AFL ladder despite being decimated by injuries. They probably have too many injuries to key players to challenge for the premiership.
Western Bulldogs: Win, lose or draw, is Luke Beveridge’s system the best to watch?
There’s no doubt that Luke Beveridge is a master tactician. They are a joy to watch. It’s a mesmerising style of footy they are playing. They never let up. They have won two games by over 100 points. They’ve had a couple of key players out through injury, in Adam Treloar and Josh Dunkley, but the players who have replaced them have stepped up seamlessly into their system and structure.