A pretty good round, all-in-all. The only thing stopping the algorithm from hitting the target 7 tips were some unfortunate injuries to Geelong, who had 3 major injuries and an array of smaller ones, leading to them conceding 6 goals straight in the last 10 minutes of their match.
I wanted to write about Tom Mitchell today. The Hawthorn inside midfielder had 42 disposals on the weekend, making it his 3rd straight game with 40+ disposals – which is highly irregular, even if 40+ disposal matches are becoming more common. The number is fantastic if you have him in your fantasy team – but what impact does it have on the field? Ever since he started playing for Hawthorn as their no. 1 inside midfielder (as opposed to one of Sydney’s many high-grade midfielders in the years beforehand), social media has been littered with posts claiming his disposals are just cheap possessions and that “he’s not a damaging player”.
When you think of damaging players, who comes to mind? If you’re alike the majority of AFL fans, chances are you would think of players like Brownlow medallists Dustin Martin, Patrick Dangerfield and Nat Fyfe alongside, perhaps the greatest forward of this century thus far, Lance “Buddy” Franklin. These are players who can do it all. They can go forward a kick a goal or a dozen, they are athletic enough to play as midfielders and wingers, they can be the difference between winning and losing, they are human highlight reels who can do the impossible. When we look at Tom Mitchell’s record-breaking 54 disposal game from round 1, what do we see? For the most part, a player releasing the ball to another in traffic so that they can go forward instead or even kick a goal. That isn’t a bad thing, of course, but it seems to be the difference between being a “damaging player” that breaks open a match and a consistent, “not very damaging” role player that sets up his teammates for glory and does it very well. I say give Tom Mitchell a break. There’s nothing wrong with questioning stats (in fact, it should be encouraged), but Mitchell is definitely damaging despite not being all that exciting to watch.
Sorry for that tangent, but I have an avenue to write about things that annoy me in footy so I may as well use it.
In ratings, we saw rises from Melbourne, Collingwood, Fremantle and Brisbane and declines from Essendon and St Kilda. These all can be explained pretty simply from their results on the weekend. Gold Coast did lose a lot of ground in attack ratings, though, and have taken over Fremantle’s old position of “competition’s worst attack”, despite a fairly strong start to the year. I don’t imagine that a forward line with Tom Lynch in it will remain at the bottom for long…