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  1. #1
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    Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

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    Assessing the Western Bulldogs has never been that simple right throughout Luke Beveridge's nine seasons as coach. And even after one of, if not the most embarrassing defeats of his 205 games in charge on Sunday, that hasn't necessarily changed.

    For all the humiliation of that loss to West Coast, one of the worst-performed teams of the modern era, with finals hopes squarely on the line; for all the white-hot anger of Bulldog fans after the game, and for all their calls for Beveridge's sacking, all is not yet quite lost.

    As tough a task as will be beating Geelong on its home turf, for once it will be a Geelong without anything September-related for which to play. Win an admittedly unlikely victory, then see Carlton beat the Giants the following afternoon, and the Bulldogs will still be playing finals.

    Would that appease the Bulldog faithful? Probably not. But then the Bulldogs under Beveridge have been a team specializing in the unlikely surge.

    Expectations among the fan base weren't high heading into the finals of 2016 and 2021, the Dogs having finished the home-and-away season seventh and sixth respectively. Yet they were campaigns which ended in a premiership and another Grand Final appearance.

    And even seven years on, that famous flag, and to a lesser extent that Grand Final two years ago they led by three goals midway through the third term, continue to muddy the waters about both club and coach.

    Beveridge's effort in leading those 2016 Bulldogs to the flag is undoubtedly one of the greatest single-season coaching performances in history. But is he still a great coach of the Bulldogs? Is this a team drastically underperformed? Or do Bulldogs fans, and a fair chunk of the football world (me included) perhaps overestimate their potential?

    Given I tipped the Dogs to win this year's premiership (my other Grand Finalist was Richmond, by the way, so yes, that is a spectacular fail), I clearly fall into the "drastically underperformed" camp. Yet, like others, I'm also beginning to wonder if I've had the rose-coloured glasses on too often when it comes to this team.

    Tipping them for the flag was the stuff of hunches, really, given they'd won only 12 of 23 games last year and finished eighth. And were the arrival of a key defender in Liam Jones and a key forward/ruckman in Rory Lobb really going to lift them that many rungs up the ladder?

    Similarly, I think I (and more importantly, the Bulldogs themselves) may have drastically underestimated the impact the loss of Josh Dunkley and Lachie Hunter would have on a midfield group whose depth we've prattled on about for years, but whom have at times this season been found wanting, certainly defensively.

    The Bulldogs were ostensibly travelling pretty well at 7-3 after Round 10. But only three of those wins were against current top eight teams. And since then? The Dogs have gone a miserable 4-8, and not a single one of those victories has been against an opponent from the upper echelon.

    Pre-season, all the talk was about the potential of the Dogs' tall forward set-up. In reality, it's been a non-event.

    While Aaron Naughton and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, plus Cody Weightman at their feet, have all had their moments, as a group they've rarely clicked as one, the Dogs only 10th for points scored after ranking fifth last year and second in 2021. That's despite high rankings for inside 50s and time in forward half. In other words, text book inefficiency.

    It's actually been their defence, along with solid enough midfield numbers, which has held things together, but now the walls are beginning to crumble, meaning the Dogs can't score enough and are getting score against too easily, West Coast's 14.8 (92) the Eagles' second-highest score of the season, their average prior to Sunday a miserable 60 points per game.

    Their ball movement is slow and stodgy, the Dogs ranking a lowly 16th prior to Sunday for defensive to offensive 50 transition, a statistic in which every single one of the last 10 premiership sides has ranked at least top six. It's not the profile of an aspiring top team.

    And the coach? It's a pretty interesting juncture for Beveridge, who was re-signed only late last year for another two seasons. He was asked directly after Sunday's loss about his future despite that tenure. You suspect not for the last time, either.

    Many hardcore Bulldog fans certainly seem to have fallen out of love even with the man who gave the club just its second premiership in 2016. And the Beveridge of 2023 certainly seems a more prickly and defensive character than the one of those glorious flag-winning days of seven years ago.

    Sunday's loss to West Coast might well have been the lowest point for both the Bulldogs and their coach of the past decade. That could potentially be surpassed by another bad loss at the Cattery on Saturday night, and a season without finals for the first time since 2018.

    But then what happens if the Bulldogs ... well, do another Bulldogs, make the eight and launch another unlikely finals run? You can never be quite sure with this mob. Maybe their coach can't, either.
    FFC: Established 1883

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Good article and something I have thought of recently is the loss of Dunkley and Hunter. Both accumulators, plus Macrae down on getting the ball. Has this hurt us losing around 60 disposals per week from these guys? Who has taken up the slack?
    FFC: Established 1883

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    Good article and something I have thought of recently is the loss of Dunkley and Hunter. Both accumulators, plus Macrae down on getting the ball. Has this hurt us losing around 60 disposals per week from these guys? Who has taken up the slack?
    Dunkley was our only mid rated elite for defensive pressure last year.
    Now we bemoan our lack of midfield defensive pressure.

    Those two events are related.
    Western Bulldogs: 2016 Premiers

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  6. #4
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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Quote Originally Posted by Mofra View Post
    Dunkley was our only mid rated elite for defensive pressure last year.
    Now we bemoan our lack of midfield defensive pressure.

    Those two events are related.
    Damn tootin'

    He won the Best and Fairest in a team with Bont... He's a gun. We miss him.

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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Quote Originally Posted by Mofra View Post
    Dunkley was our only mid rated elite for defensive pressure last year.
    Now we bemoan our lack of midfield defensive pressure.

    Those two events are related.
    The challenge is we lost an elite mid and no one stepped up to fill the defensive pressure void. Cupboard is bare with this midfield group. sunday's game showed it against the Eagles.
    Last edited by macca; 23-08-2023 at 03:09 PM.

  9. #6
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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Yet everyone was happy to get no immediate coverage for Dunkely and most were over the moon on our return for him.

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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Quote Originally Posted by G-Mo77 View Post
    Yet everyone was happy to get no immediate coverage for Dunkely and most were over the moon on our return for him.
    I think most were pretty annoyed by the compensation from memory.
    Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate.

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  12. #8
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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Quote Originally Posted by G-Mo77 View Post
    Yet everyone was happy to get no immediate coverage for Dunkely and most were over the moon on our return for him.
    I wasn't. Pony up was Bevo's words at the best and fairest and we got a couple of second rounders after push backs.

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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Quote Originally Posted by Mofra View Post
    Dunkley was our only mid rated elite for defensive pressure last year.
    Now we bemoan our lack of midfield defensive pressure.

    Those two events are related.
    It's not just Dunkley's defensive pressure that is missing though - our biggest issue is still a severe lack of leg speed around the contest.

    We spread from the contest via handball - quick little handballs from player to player until either we get it outside the congestion for a long kick forward, the opposition force another stoppage, or we turn it over.

    This is our game plan, and it has been since Bevo arrived.

    Watch how many other teams do it - through breakaway leg speed - it only takes one or two quick steps and they're away. If they don't have an opening it is one or two quick handballs, not the 5 or 6 that we often need to break free.

    Apart from Treloar, out midfielders are slow - that's why we need to use handball. What we desperately need are a couple of midfielders with the speed to break out of a contested situation without the need to give it to someone else. Every time a player passes the ball to a teammate (via hand or foot) is a chance to lose possession.
    Footscray member since 1980.

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  15. #10
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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    I'll take Ameet and Chris Grant at their word when they say we had a strong list and then just accept that from my perspective we've under-performed. Having never made the top 4 at the end of the H&A season in 9 years is an indication we are under-performing when it counts.
    How we position ourselves for the trade and draft periods will answer the question on how the club see's the strength of the playing list.
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    3 mids we didn’t wanna lose last year would’ve been Bont, Libba and Dunkley.
    I would’ve rather McRae or smith go.
    I will never see #16 the same!!

  17. #12
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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    This article seems to forget we aren't not good enough to beat the bottom side at home.

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  19. #13
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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    I'll take Ameet and Chris Grant at their word when they say we had a strong list and then just accept that from my perspective we've under-performed. Having never made the top 4 at the end of the H&A season in 9 years is an indication we are under-performing when it counts.
    How we position ourselves for the trade and draft periods will answer the question on how the club see's the strength of the playing list.
    I guess it all depends on retention of all our key players. If English leaves for picks then we may just shift in a different direction altogether.

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    Re: Blame Bevo? Perhaps these Dogs just aren't as good as we thought

    Quote Originally Posted by G-Mo77 View Post
    I guess it all depends on retention of all our key players. If English leaves for picks then we may just shift in a different direction altogether.
    For sure, if 2 or 3 critical players put their hand up like Dunkley did and say they want out then it's a very different approach.
    Whatever happens we can't tinker around the edges like we have been.
    We've invested in a couple of KPP via the draft and brought in a couple of experienced types via trades.
    We traded last year like we were close and have come up frustratingly short of that so getting an honest and a more accurate assessment of where the list is and how the footy department should be set-up is at the critical stage.
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

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