Carlton’s defensive woes have been well publicized; yet these numbers make their great flaw even more puzzling.
Plus the problem that could expose two contenders for the final at the end of the season.
With statistics of Champion data, we analyze the best and the worst players and teams one-on-one in the AFL this week Champions Index!
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What’s Carlton’s biggest problem right now? Their defense, right?
Well, this is where things immediately get confusing. Because they have two of the best defensemen in the entire AFL this season.
Liam jones and Jacob Weitering both place in the top four for defending one-on-one, joining the All-Australian pair Darcy moore and Harris andrews at the top of the leaderboard.
BEST INDIVIDUAL DEFENDERS
Liam Jones (Carlton): 72 games, 27 wins, 9 losses (+18 differential)
Darcy Moore (Collingwood): 40 games, 22 wins, 9 losses (+13)
Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions): 69 games, 28 wins, 17 losses (+11)
Jacob Weitering (Carlton): 67 games, 25 wins, 14 losses (+11)
Adam Tomlinson (Melbourne): 21 games, 12 wins, 1 loss (+11)
Note that Jones and Weitering had to defend a total of 139 head-to-head in 13 games; we will come back to that.
It’s a new generation of star backmen; only two of the first five of the last decade are still active, and the two (Daniel Talia and Jeremy McGovern) battled injuries, while the West Coast Shannon Hurn is sixth.
BEST INDIVIDUAL DEFENDERS (2011-2021)
Alex Rance (Richmond): 738 games, 258 wins, 159 losses (+99 differential)
Daniel Talia (Adelaide Crows): 827 games, 266 wins, 171 losses (+95)
Heath Grundy (Sydney Swans): 599 games, 224 wins, 135 losses (+89)
Jeremy McGovern (West Coast Eagles): 443 games, 177 wins, 88 losses (+89)
Harry Taylor (Geelong Cats): 434 fights, 156 wins, 71 losses (+85)
On the other end of the spectrum, we wouldn’t quite say Collingwood Jean Noble is the worst one-on-one defender – considering he’s only had 10 chances to stop an opponent – but he hasn’t even won one.
Hawthorn traded for Kyle hartigan cheap enough, but even that didn’t go well with Hartigan, the lowest ranked one-on-one defender with a legitimate sample size, while St Kilda’s Dougal Howard it is better to defend the tracks than the one-on-one.
THE WORST INDIVIDUAL DEFENDERS
John Noble (Collingwood): 10 games, 0 wins, 8 losses (-8 differential)
Kyle Hartigan (Hawthorn): 42 games, 7 wins, 14 losses (-7)
Dougal Howard (St Kilda): 65 games, 16 wins, 21 losses (-5)
Aaron Francis (Essendon): 21 games, 3 wins, 8 losses (-5)
Aiden Bonar (North Melbourne): 14 games, 2 wins, 7 losses (-5)
Let’s look at the other end of the field; who’s on top when it comes to forwards?
BEST INDIVIDUAL TARGETS
Tom Hawkins (Geelong): 50 games, 24 wins, 9 losses (+15 differential)
Dustin Martin (Richmond): 18 games, 11 wins, 1 loss (+10)
Toby Greene (GWS Giants): 36 games, 14 wins, 5 losses (+9)
Max King (St Kilda): 44 games, 16 wins, 9 losses (+7)
Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide): 75 games, 23 wins, 19 losses (+4)
This is nothing extraordinary, because Tom hawkins has been the dominant one-on-one AFL player for the past decade, with Dustin Martin up close and win more head-to-head per actual contest than the big cat, as you will see below.
Toby Greenethe fantastic season and ‘s versatility are on display here, while King Max has been the subject of a lot of talk and debate this season, but you can’t dispute the Stretch Armstrong’s ability to grab the ball where no one else can.
BEST INDIVIDUAL TARGETS (2011-2021)
Tom Hawkins (Geelong): 1019 games, 428 wins, 222 losses (+206 differential)
Lance Franklin (Sydney Swans): 871 games, 334 wins, 222 losses (+112)
Dustin Martin (Richmond): 345 games, 169 wins, 60 losses (+109)
Travis Cloke (Collingwood): 548 games, 198 wins, 114 losses (+84)
Taylor Walker (Adelaide Crows): 734 games, 258 wins, 190 losses (+68)
And which attackers are in trouble?
THE WORST INDIVIDUAL TARGETS
Josh Bruce (Western Bulldogs): 42 games, 8 wins, 22 losses (-14 differential)
Ben King (Gold Coast Suns): 64 games, 13 wins, 25 losses (-12)
Matt Owies (Carlton): 14 games, 0 wins, 9 losses (-9)
Daniel Rioli (Richmond): 24 games, 4 wins, 12 losses (-8)
Reilly O’Brien (Adelaide Crows): 21 games, 1 win, 9 losses (-8)
Josh bruce maybe is a surprise; he’s having a much better 2021 season than in 2020, tied for second in the Coleman medal race with 37 goals.
But he kicked those 37 on just 48 shots, while Taylor Walker kicked 37 of 61 shots, and leader Harry McKay has 41 goals on 66 shots.
Bruce’s strength was his efficiency, not his ability to actually create or find opportunities; if he can improve as an individual player, he could become a real star.
Max’s brother Ben king ranks second, but he plays a tough role in a struggling Gold Coast team and has a frightening ground-level ability for his size to make up for his apparent one-on-one flaws.
Unsurprisingly, the teams with the best one-on-one targets – Richmond (Martin) and Geelong (Hawkins) are also the best teams overall, but that’s also thanks to the powerful groups around them.
The Cats’ big three Hawkins, Jeremy Cameron and Gary Rohan are a nightmare for the full six to defend, while Tigers pair Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt are also a scary duo.
Adelaide is an impressive third; even more impressive than at first glance as they produced the most offensive duels in the AFL.
Producing them and winning them at a high pace is a big credit to Matthew Nicks’ coaching, as their ball movement allows a young group centered around a revitalized Tex Walker to shine.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s no surprise to see North Melbourne and Collingwood languishing near the bottom, but they’re both ahead of Carlton.
That’s right: The Blues’ offense has been strong, with the second most points scored of any team outside of the top eight, but they don’t actually do it by winning one-on-one.
It’s a surprise when you consider the talent that is there, although a healthy Charlie Curnow would obviously help them, and speaks of another concern with David Teague’s training and tactics.
Brisbane also doesn’t do as well as you might think, considering they come third in points scored.
But even their heights are pretty good at ground level, and the chaos caused by players like Charlie Cameron, Zac Bailey and Lincoln McCarthy allows them to score well, even if they don’t score high on opposing full-backs.
Now let’s look at the other end of the field.
MelbourneThis year’s incredible defense has been well documented, with Steven May and Jake Lever both in All-Australian competition, and Adam Tomlinson having a terrific year as a third big before falling injured; they didn’t miss too much with Harry Petty in his place.
Harris Andrews conducts Brisbane in second, then comes Carlton; but it is the large number of competitions that they have had to defend that is the problem.
It just doesn’t make sense that a team can have two of the best one-on-one defenders in the league (Liam Jones and Jacob Weitering) while conceding the second-most points overall – up to what you were looking at the first column.
No team has had to defend more head-to-head than the Blues, and the weight of the numbers is a problem.
Of course, the other problem is that the Blues’ lack of defensive pressure in midfield leads to many situations where opposing clubs don’t even have to win a head-to-head – they just find a free man in the field. before 50.
To put it simply: It doesn’t matter if you can’t beat Jones or Weitering if you never have to.
Down below you can see exactly what’s ruining St kildathe season. Dougal Howard is their best big back but his problems were explained earlier; James Frawley was supposed to help but didn’t play much, leaving them dependent on untested commodities or fringe players.
But we are also concerned about the teams in 16th and 17th; Port Adelaide and Western coast.
The Eagles will surely improve once Jeremy McGovern is healthy, and Shannon Hurn was short on time as well, but you would still expect better from those six comebacks.
Likewise, Power, who sit fourth in points conceded, look pretty impressive with Aliir Aliir adding to an underrated squad but clearly have issues to defend one-on-one.
How important does it really matter? Well, what if they meet either Richmond or Geelong – the top two heads-to-head teams – in the final? It is a fault that could be exposed at the worst possible time.
Friends pretending to Western Bulldogs have been extremely successful in limiting the number of one-on-one games they have had to defend, given that their main defensive values are the obvious weakness of the team.
And of course, who gave the Bulldogs two of their three losses this season? Tigers and Cats.