GEELONG needs to find a position for Mark Blicavs to settle in after the third-man up rule robbed him of one of his major strengths, Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel says.

Blicavs was one of the main culprits in the Cats' 17-point loss to Essendon, finishing without a tackle and just 11 possessions and two marks.

While Bartel suggested there could be an attitude problem at the Cattery, he said Blicavs was simply struggling to adjust without the third-man up role he had made his own in recent seasons.

"Blicavs is horribly, horribly out of form," Bartel said on RSN.  

"He's a best and fairest winner (2015), and I'm not targeting him but when you win a best and fairest you're held to a higher standard.

"He's playing as a pure midfielder and he plays 90 per cent of game time … but he's only averaging 15 touches and five kicks. Three of them are ineffective.

"[The Cats point to his] defensive pressure and running, well he's only having two-and-a-half intercept possessions and two tackles a game."

Bartel said the Cats should consider playing Blicavs as a key defender, with his role as a midfielder and second ruckman failing to deliver results without the ability to jump third-man up at stoppages. 

"Everyone knew the third-man up rule was coming, they need to find a position for his own football," Bartel said.

"I think he might need to go back as a key defender and just give him a job.

"(James) Stewart was the match-up for him. Just play on Stewart and don't let him kick a goal.

"At the moment, he's an unbelievable runner, but he's just running up and down the ground."