AFL Hall of Fame legend Leigh Matthews has labelled Patrick Cripps as "a journeyman" in a scathing assessment of the Carlton co-captain's current form.

Cripps, 26, has long been seen as a prototypical modern midfielder and has earned many plaudits across his eight-seasons at Princes Park, but according to Matthews, the Western Australian has hit a wall of late.

Speaking on SEN's Sportsday, the four-time premiership coach and four-time premiership player stated that the injury hit Cripps had already begun slowing down since his boon season in 2019.

“I can’t believe how badly he’s aged,” Matthews began.

“Two years ago, he won a lot of the awards, but he won the Players’ Association Award, and he was close enough to the best player in the game – that was two years ago.

“He was 24 then in 2019. He’s now turned 26."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Patrick Cripps of the Blues in action during the 2021 AFL Round 01 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

As Cripps has been perennially been hampered by an array of injuries, including both serious shoulder and back ailments, Matthews held a view that the three-time John Nicholls medalist was inching towards 'journeyman' status.

“He’s never had much of a leap, I suppose, but he just looks like he’s lost his mobility and agility," Matthews continued.

"He’s still probably got his strength, but he just doesn’t move the same as he did two years ago.

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“So therefore, he’s become like a journeyman. I mean, he was the best player in the game, now I don’t think he’d be in the All-Australian squad for instance – he’s just aged so badly.

“What’s happened that I don’t know about? Well, you don’t know what you don’t know. All I know is when I see him now, he’s such a different football athlete than he was two years ago.”

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 24: Patrick Cripps of the Blues leads his team out onto the field during the round 23 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Carlton Blues at GMHBA Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

With the view that the midfielder's style of play had been altered and his output had fallen off a cliff, the AFL's Team of the Century forward pocket was taken aback by the fact that Carlton had offered Cripps a long-term deal earlier this year.

“Yeah right now, but the six-year deal was a couple of months ago,” Matthews said.

“This has been a gradual degeneration – that’s what my eyes tell me. That’s my look on him and it’s more of as a football athlete, he’s aged badly from 24 to 26."

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Despite sinking the boot in, Matthews was sympathetic to Cripps' plight.

“He might’ve had injuries that we’re not aware of, I don’t know. All I know is that’s the basic look.

“It doesn’t mean he’s still not a good player, but he’s not the match-winning, gun player that he was a couple of years ago.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 19: Patrick Cripps of the Blues looks dejected as the Blues leave the field after defeat during the round nine AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Carlton Blues at GIANTS Stadium on May 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Cripps has laced the boots on 17-occasions for Carlton this season, but has only surpassed the 30-disposal mark once - Round 3 against Fremantle.

Although primarily known as a midfielder, the East Fremantle product spent the vast majority of Carlton's demoralizing 39-point loss to North Melbourne last Saturday within David Teague's forward 50.

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Irrespective of the fact that Cripps managed three-majors for the afternoon, the loss all but signaled an end to the Blues' hopes of earning a place in the eight.

Said loss was labelled as "embarrassing" by Carlton veteran Eddie Betts.

Speaking on AFL 360, the small forward explained that the Round 19 defeat had followed several typical tendencies.

AFL Rd 3 - Geelong v Carlton
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 20: Eddie Betts of the Blues (L) in action during the round 3 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Carlton Blues at GMHBA Stadium on June 20, 2020 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Photos via Getty Images )

“It’s kind of a trend for us to be honest where we let teams get a run on against us for 20 minutes and they pile on a lot of goals and it’s hard to come back,” Betts said.

“It’s actually embarrassing. We reviewed it, we watched some pretty brutal highlights of our defence as well so we’ve just got to be better for four quarters and put a consistent effort in."

Following this admission, the 34-year-old lifted the lid on how both the coaching and playing group were seeking to rectify their inactions.

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“It’s just showing clips of a few players, well, a lot of players about missed tackles. Most of their goals were coast to coast as well starting from our forward line, and they went down and scored pretty easily,” Betts continued.

“It was just reviewed pretty hard on us as players and we basically said it‘s not good enough. We need to perform.

“It’s not the way that we want to play, it’s not the Carlton brand and our supporters should be embarrassed the way that we played, they should be upset by the way that we’ve played because we didn’t play the way that we wanted to play.”

Carlton Blues Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: Eddie Betts of the Blues looks on during the Carlton Blues AFL training session at Ikon Park on May 29, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Notwithstanding his internal appraisal, Betts also paid praise to the Blues' opponents.

“In saying that all credit to North Melbourne, they came out all guns blazing, what David Noble’s doing at the moment - I was doing down there.

“I read a stat that after Round 12 North Melbourne has the best midfield in the competition so a credit to them.”

Betts is expected to be sidelined for a pair of weeks with a lower leg injury and will miss Carlton's Round 20 clash with St Kilda on Friday night.