Don’t be fooled, this is the best Geelong team we’ve seen in years.

Geelong is playing the kind of football that makes the team super dangerous going forward.

For years, most of us have mocked Cats for being too old and too slow.

Despite missing the final just once since 2006 and tallying seven top-four finishes in the past nine seasons, the Cats have only reached the grand final once during that time and, more worryingly, have conceded more points. of those who have scored in all but one final. Serie.

There are two sides to this piece of history.

Clearly, it’s unbelievable how relevant this club has remained for such a long period and fans are justifiably proud and pleased with repeated Finals appearances, with a similar stature in the game to the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.

Non-Geelong supporters have publicly criticized a seemingly desperate team for clinging to false hope, repeatedly bracing with experience to keep their window open for as long as possible.

The reality is that both views probably have some validity. The longer the Cats remain the oldest team in the league, the more criticism grows.

After seven rounds in 2022, the Cats are sitting 4-3 and continue to face their naysayers.

However, 2022 is giving us a different version of Geelong, one that was desperately needed.

If Chris Scott was going to continue to persist with this group of players, he had to buck the recent trend of definite madness and make tactical adjustments.

(Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

He has, and he should be commended, because the Cats are playing completely different football than they have produced in recent history, one that has only gotten them to one big final and, more often than not, an overwhelmingly poor one. .

If you continue to criticize Geelong’s age profile, then you have to acknowledge the fact that Scott has adjusted his team to keep an eye on the future.

Sam De Koning is 21 years old and is not playing second fiddle as other clubs choose to use their young players. He is the side and main defender of the club, and the one they trust the most in one-on-one.

Brandan Parfitt, 24, is one of the team’s main midfield movers and is having the best season of his career with the most assists per stoppage.

Brad Close and Tyson Stengle, both 23, have emerged as the dominant, impactful forwards who push up.

Max Holmes (19) has played a supporting role and Jack Henry is still 23.

This is not a list of young players written for the sake of it: these are the Cats of the future that Chris Scott has consciously placed in significant structural roles to have a significant impact on their development.

Yes, it’s up to the veterans, but 2022 is chalk and cheese compared to even last season, when fans screaming for youth would only mollify on occasion in largely peripheral roles.

This is just one part of the significant change undertaken by Scott to reinvigorate his playing group and play a meaningful season.

Instead of patient, defense-oriented football, the Cats are now playing an extremely offensive style.

In fact, the defense has suffered significantly in this shift in focus, but it’s perhaps the best sign of things to come.

It is not so easy to look at the ladder, although the average of 95.14 points for and 80.29 points against is the highest since 2017.

: Tom Hawkins of the Cats is congratulated by Tyson Stengle after kicking a goal during the AFL 4th round game between the Geelong Cats and the Brisbane Lions at GMHBA Stadium on April 8, 2022 in Geelong, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Instead of moving the ball around and trying to stretch the opposition, Scott has been teaching the group to speed up the ball and be direct.

Even before the seventh round, captain Joel Selwood acknowledged that the playing group was still adjusting to the new demands being placed on them.

The numbers are uncharacteristic and refreshing.

After seven rounds, Geelong is averaging 57.7 inside 50 per game, the most since 2011 and up from 50.4 last season.

Matching those highs, the Cats are averaging just 6.37 disposals per 50 insiders, down from 7.28 in 2021 and again, it’s their best ratio since their last flag. This is one of the best in the league.

It’s such a significant change in style that it’s understandable why some veterans are taking the time to adjust.

But clearly, he’s benefiting forwards tremendously, averaging 16.1 points from inside 50, which would be an AFL record if he continued.

When Geelong wins the ball they clearly avoid lateral ball retention as much as possible as they feel the current trend of fast movement maximizes the firepower the team possesses up front with two of the best key strikers in the league.

The Cats have an average of 5890.9 meters gained, ranking fifth in the league. It’s a number that’s hard to follow without context, but never since the stat was first tracked in 2014 has Geelong covered so much ground on the ball.

Marks are down to 86 per game from 97.6, which is in line with the new philosophy and is the lowest we’ve seen from the team in modern history, matching well with the increase in meters gained.

Tyson Stenglé celebrates a goal.

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Offensive ball movement is designed to be fast and destructive and is done almost at all costs. The Cats were dominant in the first quarter against Fremantle in Round 7, but when forward pressure from the opposition increased, the home team’s ball movement was stifled.

They didn’t seem in the mood to score for a good half hour, but when they got into their front half, the Cats were still efficient.

Defensively, there have been clear issues, but fans shouldn’t be distraught with the defensive season thus far.

Tackling is excellent, ranking 4th in the league so far after being 12th last season. The average of 72 interceptions per game is a clear club record and is largely due to the pressure applied.

A byproduct of the new attacking playstyle has been a reduction in the help defense on offer.

Geelong’s key defenders are exposed to more one-on-one clashes than in previous seasons: De Koning and Henry have defended 3.8 per game, with the former ranked above average and the latter’s numbers suffering an upset against Brisbane.

They are being scored against quite easily: opposition clubs are kicking goals with 25.26 per cent of their 50 inside 50, up from 21.21 per cent in 2021.

The Cats are giving up easier shots than before, largely due to the team’s offensive commitment. There are more goals behind and there is more space inside the 50.

Tom Stewart and his Cats teammates look dejected

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

It’s a bit misleading though, as the Cats’ opponents are clearly the most accurate in the league and Champion Data indicates that Geelong have had six or seven goals worse than expected.

The commitment to attack has resulted in the team accepting more pressure overall. They are conceding 50 more discards than last season and their opponents rank seventh and sixth in discard efficiency and top-50 tackles respectively, which were previously in the bottom four in the stats.

Why, then, shouldn’t Cats fans worry about these clearly worrying trends?

Simply put, it seems that everything that is happening in Geelong, good and bad, is by design.

The best teams have always had multiple gears and multiple styles. In recent seasons, the Cats have been a terrific back-and-forth team, but have disappointed in the Finals looking to play the same way.

Right now, Geelong is developing an attacking style that is ultimately adding another string to his bow.

Defensive numbers have dropped significantly, but with a purpose.

We’ve seen Tom Stewart play a lot more on the wing than before and Mark Blicavs is playing higher up than we’ve seen in a long time, despite Rhys Stanley enjoying the best season of his career at the ruck.

Jack Henry has seen his defensive responsibilities skyrocket at the expense of Jake Kolodjashnij, even though his roles are better suited to change.

And the reason for this?

The Cats know how to defend and have mastered their defensive schemes over a period of years.

Rory Lobb of the Dockers and Mark Blicavs of the Cats dispute the ruck

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

They can always go back to what they know to be largely effective and among the best in the league in terms of defensive efficiency, but there’s no need to while the offensive game plan is developing.

In 2019, Richmond went 7-6. All of their losses were by at least 33 points, with four of them by at least seven goals.

During those 13 games, he averaged 77.69 points, suffered inaccuracy and gave up 84.46 points per game.

They didn’t lose after that point, averaging 99.42 points and conceding just 60.17.

Damien Hardwick tried different tactics during the first half of the season before combining them with what Richmond already knew, ultimately keeping his cards close to his chest.

For years, it has felt like the Cats only had one way to pay and that Chris Scott had no other cards to play.

This season is different. We’ve seen the Cats play differently, we’ve heard their captain acknowledge it and we’ve seen the numbers.

Geelong have figured out a way to improve the way they play without revealing too much to the opposition.

If you’re a fan of the club, you should stay excited, even if the Cats head to their break outside the top eight at worst.

For the first time in years, it appears that the Cats have long-term purpose and control.

Download them at your own risk, because the 2022 version of Geelong is the most dangerous the Cats have been in a long time.

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