The Fremantle Dockers’ loss last week to the Port Adelaide Power was monumental.
Port Adelaide certainly impressed in their season opening win against Sydney at the SCG the week before, but no one was expecting them to come out the week after and blow out their next opponents by almost 100 points.
Certainly Fremantle weren’t expecting it. Sure, they were poor in their loss to Geelong at home, but a 15-goal loss is like a power outage. You never expect them, and they are never welcome.
They experienced one or two bigger losses last year, but the feeling of Groundhog Day provided by another blowout had Freo head coach Ross Lyon pondering his life and purpose to the awaiting media.
“We are going to have to look at the drills we are delivering, how we are coaching them, the messages – making sure they are as simple as they can be under pressure” Lyon said post-match.
Lyon’s coaching has always had its critics, but scarcely is it ever Lyon himself. After all, he is known for being cool, calm, collected, and always in control.
Besides, his methods are proven to be successful. Or were successful.
Now that Lyon’s Dockers are losing games, the criticism all of a sudden becomes a much more realistic position.
In Round 1 against the Cats, they were too slow, and uncharacteristically sloppy, with Fremantle handing their opponents 11 goals from turnovers.
No one at any point of Lyon's coaching career would describe anything about the way he coaches his football as dynamic, but unfortunately for Ross, dynamic, highs scoring, high energy, high risk, high reward football is where the AFL is heading.
Until as recently as 2015, Lyon was still ahead of the curve. But father time has now challenged Ross to a pick-up game and it seems that right now, the Freo mentor is losing.
The Dockers have recruited aggressively the last few years, adding Harley Bennell in 2016 and Joel Hamling, Bradley Hill, Shane Kersten and Cam McCarthy this year, all in an effort to keep up with the Jonses in the arms race that is the AFL.
Of course we haven’t seen much of the 2017 recruits, and we haven’t seen Bennell at all, but thus far, none have proven to exactly be the timely supply drop they were meant to be.
Lyon stunningly admitted last year that it might take as long as four years to get his flailing club back on track. Whether Ross actually believed that or not, it’s starting to look like a prediction that may err on the conservative side.
Now with most of the AFL community having accepted that the Dockers are in a full scale rebuild, one wonders if Lyon will be – or should be – at the club when they are ready to again take that next step.