The Tackle: Bulldogs are doing my head in
What is going on at Western Bulldogs? Where was the intensity they had for three quarters against Geelong and for the second half against Brisbane Lions? Mark Robinson reveals his likes and dislikes from Round 10.
From North Melbourne and coach Brad Scott parting ways to Essendon and Melbourne's dismal performances on the MCG in big games, there is a lot to analyse.
Mark Robinson reveals his likes and dislikes after Round 10.
WHAT I LIKE
1. BRAD SCOTT
This was his doing and the Kangaroos agreed and it seems to have been the perfect break-up.
He spoke of the club wonderfully well and the chairman Ben Buckley did likewise in return.
Other than the David King confrontation, which Scott should have acknowledged, it was a classy departure.
The King contact and choice words were unfortunate, but it was real-life theatre between two blokes who don't like each other.
What we did learn is the players, unlike some supporters, were totally in Scott's corner.
They spoke of their shock and disappointment - led by Ben Cunnington, Jack Ziebell and Scott Thompson - and the care factor was testament to the relationship Scott had with his players.
2. WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Officially, the Kangas review begins.
Unofficially, it began weeks ago. A clean-out of the football department is expected with the new coach.
It's anticipated approaches will be made to Adam Simpson, John Longmire and Alastair Clarkson, the three of them former Kangaroos players.
Simpson and Clarkson look tough to get, which leaves Longmire.
The Swans hope to re-sign him, but it would seem that if Longmire wanted the North Melbourne job, he'd be an unbackable favourite to get it.
3. WHAT ABOUT SCOTT?
His former coach Leigh Matthews has suggested a year-long sabbatical from coaching, meaning a media role would be the likely result.
If he does coach next year, there could be five clubs looking for a new coach: Carlton, Essendon, St Kilda, Fremantle and Sydney, if Longmire departs.
Colleague Jon Anderson, on the SuperFooty podcast a month ago, suggested a swap between Longmire and Scott, which wasn't a silly idea.
What will happen is every club looking for a coach will speak to Scott and, who knows, some might already have sounded him out through third parties.
He is close to Simon Lethlean and Graeme "Gubby" Allan at St Kilda and if the Saints' season starts to free-fall, you can expect that narrative to get louder and louder.
The other club, of course, is the Blues, although president Mark LoGiudice told 3AW on Sunday the Scott situation hasn't changed Carlton's belief in Brendon Bolton.
4. GIANT SUCCESS
The emergence of Harry Himmelberg (five goals) and Jeremy Finlayson (nine marks) for GWS has allowed Jeremy Cameron to push up the ground. That's not healthy for those who have Cameron for the Coleman Medal, but he's becoming an old-fashioned run-around centre half-forward.
It's what the Blues will be aiming for with Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Mitch McGovern. Of course, the delivery into the Giants' 50m has more class than the Carlton midfield's, but in time it will work. As for the Giants, the forward three is as dangerous as any big-man set-up in the AFL. Rest assured, Toby Greene and Brett Deledio are getting miles in their legs as well. At the very least the MCG hoodoo got busted on Sunday.
5. LUKE SHUEY
How many times do we plead for the leaders to stand up?
How many times have we seen Luke Shuey do just that?
Despite a five-goal third quarter, the Eagles trailed by nine points at three-quarter time and were on the road.
Shuey's final quarter was epic in terms of willing his team to victory. He was clearly the most dominant player, having 11 disposals (nine effective), six contested possessions, five clearances, three tackles and four score involvements. Time and again he won the important ball, which, in a tight game, was matchwinning.
Final-quarter rankings points were 78 Shuey, 47 Jack Darling, 44 Josh Kennedy and 44 Rory Sloane. It is a huge return by Shuey, but not even close to Anthony Koutoufides' final-quarter record for Carlton in the '99 preliminary final. Yep, that was 125 points.
6. JACK GUNSTON
It's not often in the team-first environment that one player is the difference between winning and losing.
On Saturday in Launceston, it was Gunston. It was the deepest he has played this year with only one of his 21 disposals won in the defensive half.
Coach Alastair Clarkson likes to use Gunston on a wing and at halfback at times, but with the forward set-up changing, could we see Gunston play as a permanent full-forward?
He kicked 6.0 after having 10.12 this year, the first time in his career he had more behinds than goals in a season.
"Today he was probably the difference between the two sides in terms of being able to get his hands on the footy and then convert opportunities," Clarkson said.
"We kicked 12.8 and Port kicked 6.13."
7. JADE GRESHAM
It was a grubby game for skill, except when Gresham had the ball. A tag on him and the result could have been different. If Gresham's not St Kilda's best player, he's a close second to Seb Ross, who would be probably leading the best-and-fairest. What Gresham does is explode with the ball, which makes all his teammates run.
Patrick Cripps and Jack Steele went head-to-head, but Gresham didn't get a run-with and his 29 disposals were telling. It was the number of them and what he did with them, and that's why he was the clear best afield.
8. BACHAR HOULI
One day, a team will put the necessary time into the Minister of Transition.
Houli simply can't be allowed to generate run from halfback and on Saturday night he made a mess of the Bombers.
In the first half, he did as he liked, running up 22 disposals, 20 intercept possessions and 420m gained. In the second half, Josh Begley was sent to quell him as a defensive half-forward, but Houli still had 15 and 396m gained. The no-tag Bombers let Dustin Martin loose and he didn't disappoint. In his past six games against Essendon, he has had 35, 28, 26, 30, 38 and4 3 disposals.
9. THE TACKLE KING
Elliot Yeo will forever be known as the player who won the best-and-fairest for the premiership team but didn't make the All-Australian team.
He might also become known as the tackle king. He has laid 31 tackles in the past two weeks, joining Hawthorn's Liam Shiels, who laid 31 in two weeks in 2016.
The winner is Geelong's Scott Selwood, who laid 34 tackles in two weeks in 2017.
To further emphasise Yeo's hard-nosed attitude, the Giants in Round 2 this year against West Coast laid just 30 tackles for the match.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE
1. WINTER IS COMING
Yep, one of those games is coming. Essendon is 4-6 and plays Carlton on Saturday at the MCG.
It's one of those games where a loss is unacceptable. If it is a loss, excuses can be found because the Bombers' injury list, which Jake Stringer and Dylan Shiel joined at the weekend, is pretty nasty.
Still, they should be beating Carlton. The pressure torch is being passed around various coaches at the moment, and if it is a loss, the torch will land at Tullamarine.
That's not suggesting John Worsfold's job is under threat, but at this stage last year the Bombers were 4-6, this year they are 4-6, so the questions will be asked: What's changed? Where's the improvement?
2. ESSENDON OVERALL
It is the great tease of the competition.
It never looked like winning on Saturday night, but did enough to keep the narrative somewhat positive. It was a microcosm of the past couple of seasons, but it amounts to nothing.
Another four points lost after finding the necessary intensity in the final quarter. It seduces Bombers fans and provides some hope, but, really, where was it for three quarters? They are great turnover kings. They turned the ball over in their defensive half another 40 times and conceded 48 points, and have committed the most defensive-half turnovers a match at an average of 29.8 (next worst is Port at 27.7).
Adam Saad, Conor McKenna and Shiel all rank in the bottom five players for points conceded from defensive-half turnovers.
Now that was a shambles and the torch is shining brightly on the Demons. Like the Bombers, we can sugar-coat the result because of their last-quarter effort, but that makes you even more frustrated.
The ball use was horrific. For the first three quarters, they went at 57 per cent by foot and retained possession just seven times from their 28 kicks inside 50. At the same time, they were minus 29 in contested possession. In 2018, they were the hungriest and hardest team in the competition and now they are a shell of that.
If not for Max Gawn, it would've been a hiding. The ruckman led his team in disposals, score involvements and clearances. Seeing as footy department reviews are the rage, the Demons should instigate their own. What's happened?
The Blues came with attitude, but left their skills and game awareness at home, and the torch remains hovering over Ikon Park. Coach Brendon Bolton got the necessary response, but they let themselves down going inside 50m. The Saints weren't much better, hence the score was 68-55 from 47 and 42 insides-50s respectively.
You'd think the Blues would try to get it more to Harry McKay, who is the best offensive mark in the game. But not on Sunday. The inside-50 targets were Jack Silvagni six, Matthew Kreuzer five, McKay and Charlie Curnow four, and Patrick Cripps and Paddy Dow three.
That's 1-9 for the Blues and this season is shaping up worse than last year, when the expectation wasn't as high.
5. DANIEL WELLS
It was joy and despair in the one game.
He sees a specialist this week to determine the damage to his posterior cruciate ligament and fingers crossed he gets another crack at it because football is better off when Wells is playing.
He limped off the field on Friday night seven minutes into the third quarter.
He played 48 minutes and had 11 disposals (10 effective), 200m gained, five score involvements and three goals.
Colleague Jay Clark wrote recently that Wells could be the cream on the Pies' cake, not too dissimilar to the impact of Dustin Martin at Richmond. Different players, of course, but they make things happen.
6. THE BULLDOGS
They're doing my head in.
The Dogs were up against a team committed to the cause and were the second youngest fielded at the weekend.
Still, where was the intensity they had for three quarters against Geelong and for the second half against Brisbane Lions?
They are lacking key defenders and key forwards and North's big three in the forward 50m - Ben Brown, Nick Larkey and Mason Wood - kicked nine goals, all the while Tim English couldn't keep up with Todd Goldstein.
It's the lot of a young team. When the Dogs win we are enthused about the possibilities. When they lose, we are reminded youth brings inconsistency. They had four players 29 or older and 11 under 23. If they nail some good talls, the Dogs should be in business.
Don Pyke's stance on Josh Jenkins might become a state referendum in South Australia, such is the angst about Jenkins' non-selection.
Pyke has opted for Elliott Himmelberg since Round 5 and his performances have been encouraging without being match-defining.
Tex Walker and Himmelberg combined for eight kicks, three marks and 0.1 against the Eagles, so we'll learn this week if Pyke has put a line through Jenkins or not.
The more pressing problem is how the Crows let go a 33-point lead at home, which will be costly in the top-four wash-up.
The Crows' much-heralded defence couldn't stop the Eagles forwards taking contested marks in the final quarter, and that wasn't Himmelberg's fault.
8. PADDY MCCARTIN
It's always been worrying, his concussions, but the insight he gave to Channel 7's Jimmy Bartel makes it frightening.
"It's been really tough for me," McCartin said. "I've lost my identity as a footballer a little bit, but also as a person."
He said he can't go the supermarket, to a cafe with his girlfriend, and has issues driving the car.
The fear is he might not play football again. The greater fear is what effect the concussions will be long-term.
9. GAZZA, NOT AGAIN
Don't you love it when Gazza throws up his hands in bewilderment moments after striking an opposition player.
Like, you've got to be kidding umpire.
Anyway, he can't get out of this one. It will be intentional, high contact and low impact and Ablett should sit for a game.
We've just spoken of our fears for McCartin and head knocks.
Not to punish Ablett for punching someone in the head would be reprehensible from the AFL.