- The Dockers were No.1 for clearances per game this season. The likes of Nat Fyfe, David Mundy and Lachie Neale feasted off the silver service of Aaron Sandilands.
- The defence continued to stand tall despite a multitude of injuries to key defenders. They were the second-best defence in the league for scores against, even with Luke McPharlin, Michael Johnson, Zac Dawson and Alex Silvagni all missing large chunks of football due to injury.
- The Dockers' fast starts were a huge part of their success this season. They were the best first-quarter team in the AFL for most of the year - but they gave up a 19-point quarter-time lead to Hawthorn in the preliminary final loss.
- The forward structure and lack of scoring power remains an issue. They were 12th in the competition for scoring per game across the season. Freo scored well in the first nine rounds but really struggled from then on.
- Lack of scores from turnovers. The Dockers did most of their scoring from stoppages. Of the four preliminary final teams, Fremantle was clearly the worst in terms of scoring from turnovers, which has been a strength in the past and is part of the reason for its lack of scoring overall.
-The Dockers were ranked 13th for marks inside 50, highlighting a host of issues including the speed of ball movement, the quality of delivery and decision-making when kicking inside 50, and the lack of marking options inside 50.
Overall rating: 8.5/10
The Dockers put together an outstanding home and away season. They finished top with one round to spare, allowing them to rest players ahead of a home qualifying final, which they won. They were right in the hunt in the preliminary final but critical mistakes at crucial times cost them. They were so close, yet so far from that elusive flag.
What we said in the pre-season
We expected the Dockers to be a top-four side in 2015 and then from there it was a question of whether they could win the flag. They probably exceeded expectations in the home and away season but the question marks over their ability to win a Grand Final remain.
The fans' rating
It has been another professional performance from Ross Lyon this season. He made some adjustments to the pre-season training schedule after the disappointment of last season and it led to a dominant first half of the year that set them up perfectly for the finals. But despite his incredible consistency, that coveted premiership cup escaped his grasp again.
Nat Fyfe . He was the dominant figure in the game for most of the season and thoroughly deserved his first Brownlow Medal. He also won his second AFLPA MVP award and earned his second All Australian selection, and was one vote short of winning the AFLCA player of the year as well. He finished the year with a staggering performance in the preliminary final on a broken leg.
Lachie Neale. Those who have watched him closely over the past two seasons would not be surprised by what he delivered in the midfield this year, but it was his level of consistency that was most impressive. He averaged 27 disposals and kicked 16 goals to earn an All Australian nomination at just 22 years of age.
Alex Pearce. The 20-year-old did not play a single game in 2014 after being drafted in 2013. But after a stack of injuries, he was thrust into a key defensive role this year and showed incredible promise in his 13 matches. He has great athleticism and endurance and will only get better as his body matures.
Colin Sylvia . He was recruited as a high-profile free agent and failed to deliver on expectations. He played six games in two years and retired early in the season after failing to meet minimum fitness and training standards.
Colin Sylvia began 2015 in the WAFL and retired before returning to the senior team. Picture: AFL Media
Best win: The 14-point win over the Sydney Swans, round four, Domain Stadium. Fremantle notched two great wins over the Swans at home this season, with the second coming in the qualifying final. But the first was very impressive as they kicked nine goals to one in a flawless first half.
The preliminary final defeat to Hawthorn hurt some die-hard Dockers fans more than the Grand Final loss in 2013. They led early, kicking the first two goals, and had their chances all night but unfortunately could not capitalise as well as Hawthorn did.
The big questions
- Will Matthew Pavlich retire? It seems likely, however he still has not made a decision yet.
- Where do they find some quality key forwards? They will be active again in the free agency and trade period, but have been unsuccessful in the past.
- How do they play their best football at the right time of the year? They were untouchable early this season but were never able to recapture that form when it mattered most.
Season in a song Heartbreak Hotel, by Elvis Presley
Retirements: Colin Sylvia retired early in the season after coming to a mutual agreement with the club. Luke McPharlin also announced his retirement. He 18 games in the home and away season but another calf injury kept him out of yet another finals campaign.
Delistings: Craig Moller and Tom Vandeleur have battled at WAFL level and it is unlikely either will be on the list next season. Moller played one game in round 23, 2013 and was an emergency in round 23 against Port Adelaide but the Dockers are flush with ruck stocks.
Trades/free agents: Ryan Crowley and Paul Duffield are the wrong side of 30 and are unrestricted free agents. Neither player has indicated they wish to play elsewhere. Crowley is in a state of flux about his future given his doping ban this season, while Duffield found himself out of the team at the end of the season and would more likely retire than move elsewhere.
Ryan Crowley remains in limbo after serving a doping ban throughout 2015. Picture: AFL Media
What they need
Key forwards have been needed at Fremantle for some time but Lyon said the Dockers needed to add quality across the board if they want to improve. Cam McCarthy would be the ideal fit for the Dockers, who have openly targeted the exciting GWS prospect. Matthew Leuenberger has also been linked to the Dockers but they aren't short on ruck talent, while Zac Clarke re-signed this week. Exciting Suns midfielder Harley Bennell is another who has been linked with a move home.
1pm. The Dockers have the midfield strength and defensive structures to remain extremely competitive in 2016 and potentially finish in the top-four again. But they need some offensive weapons to win the big finals.
Early call: Third-fifth.
The Dockers will win a lot of games next year and will only run into trouble if they have midfield injuries. The potential loss of Pavlich and McPharlin won't hurt as much as some think but they need to add some quality to win the flag.