Before the season began, Bob Murphy tipped his beloved Bulldogs to return to the top eight this year, but after two beltings in a row to start the season, he has voiced his concerns.
Speaking on SEN Breakfast on Wednesday, Murphy said the Bulldogs are a shadow of the team that won the premiership in 2016.
“It’s really troubling. On the small sample size of Rounds 1 and 2, it’s been a disastrous start,” Murphy said.
“They just don’t look like the side that we’ve come to know the last three years. Last year wasn’t our best, but it was still a type of footy that we got used to, but I haven’t seen any of that.
“All I can talk to is the character of the people and the players there – it’s the real deal. They’re good people, they’ve got plenty of heart. I’m sure they’ll come bouncing back.”
While the former captain of the club didn’t expect the Dogs to hold a Hawthorn-like legacy over the competition after their premiership, he still believed they had the depth to stay up there with the best.
“I don’t think it was ever going to be a list that was going to sit top of the ladder, because there’s not a litany of superstars,” Murphy said.
“Marcus Bontempelli is a superstar, but the reason we were such a good side in 2015 and 2016 was because of the even spread, and the depth was incredible and was really tested with the injuries we had in ’16.
“That evenness at the moment is not there. We don’t bat as deep as we did, and the effort hasn’t gone as deep, so that’s how you get belted.”
Having only just retired at the end last season, Murphy still knows the group and what to expect from coach Luke Beveridge to turn things around.
“One thing I have noticed over the first couple of weeks is how easily sides have marked the ball in one-on-one situations,” he said.
“We weren’t a one-on-one sort of team, there was an abandon really, especially from the defenders, that’s what I think has dropped off alarmingly.
“Trust and the courage to go ‘I’m just going to fly for my mate, to avoid one-on-one marking contests’.
“I would imagine, and this is just an absolute guess, but almost a refresher on what is the 101 for the Bulldogs. What was the thing that gave us self-esteem and our own dignity, was we were different to other sides, because we did that.
“Let’s get back to it.”