THERE is a quality American football team feel to Geelong in 2021.
If the aesthetics happen, great, but don't worry too much about them. Don’t obsess about running up a score. Get your own plans into function before you worry about the opposition's. Don’t lose to the teams you’re meant to beat. Just get the job done, and let the win column - not percentage - determine where you finish after the home and away season.
While some may observe a half-empty glass when looking at the Cats, I'm seeing one close to full.
If you missed Saturday's Geelong-Collingwood game at the MCG but had intended to watch it on catch-up this week – don't bother, it will be two hours you'll never get back. That the inept Collingwood somehow finished the match just 10 points in arrears may be one of the miracles of the year, but it was of no consequence to Geelong as it continued its desired path back to a second consecutive Grand Final.
At 8-3, it has poised itself beautifully going into its bye weekend. On the other side of that, season-shaping matches await. In order, Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, and then Essendon.
Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan, Mark Blicavs, Cam Guthrie, Gryan Miers and Mark O'Connor all missed the match against the Pies. Danger wants to play the week after the break.
The Cats have controlled their season after a shock loss to Adelaide in round one. They were lucky to escape with victory the following week against Brisbane, and somehow allowed Hawthorn to get within five points in round three. After Melbourne beat them in round four, they were 2-2, but since, have lost only to Sydney, by two points, in round seven.
Recruits Jeremy Cameron and Isaac Smith have been very good, Shaun Higgins beginning to feel familiar as a Cat. All three have higher gears to reach. Tom Hawkins is compiling another fantastic season, Zach Tuohy too. Joel Selwood is as impactful as ever. Tom Stewart is a player every other club would want playing for them.
That they have got to the half-way point of the 2021 season at 8-3 without having to slam the accelerator suggests to me that there is as much left in this club's tank as any in the competition.
Nothing ever changes with the Blues
DAVID Teague can talk all he likes about improvement and an exciting future, but there is not one skerrick of evidence to back him up.
Yet again, his Carlton team was OK in round 11, against Sydney. But yet again, it lost, without ever really threatening to win.
That's what it does. Its four wins in 2021 have been against Fremantle, Gold Coast, Essendon and Hawthorn. The losses – Richmond, Collingwood, Port Adelaide, Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and the Swans.
The Blues' best is only OK. Yet again. Nothing ever changes.
What will the Hawks do at season's end?
THE Hawthorn facts: it has lost 20 of its past 24 matches (11 of the last 13 in 2020, nine of the first 11 in 2021).
The Hawthorn opinion: it doesn’t seem to want to win too many more matches than the two it has already secured in 2021.
All-time master coach Alastair Clarkson aside, there is nothing that jumps off the Hawthorn operation as elite, exciting or even competitive right now. There are big names among the midfield mix, including a Brownlow medallist in Tom Mitchell. He managed just three clearances against Gold Coast on Saturday night. Wonder if he wants to be a Hawk in 2022, and also if the Hawks want him in 2022.
And now, the Hawks have managed to rankle seemingly every other team with some "clever" negotiations around Jai Newcombe to price himself out of the market for all other competitors in this week's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft. Clearly, the supposed rebuild is already two seasons deep, and equally clearly, the Hawthorn-affiliated Box Hill player Newcombe is part of the future.
Will be keen to see their results in their remaining 11 matches of 2021, and then what they do at season's end. The messaging, as always, has been mixed, with coach Alastair Clarkson saying one thing and the forever spinning president Jeff Kennett saying whatever he thinks needs to be said at any given point in time.
Must-watch Bombers stacked with Rising Star material
CAN'T believe Nik Cox hasn't yet been nominated for the NAB AFL Rising Star.
Slightly bemused that Harrison Jones hasn't either. Staggered that Archie Perkins has also been ignored.
None of this is to question the credentials of those who have been, in order – Errol Gulden, Braeden Campbell, Chad Warner, Lachie Sholl, Mitch Georgiades, Jacob Koschitzke, Luke Jackson, James Jordon, Tom Green and Cody Weightman. It is raised simply to celebrate the effect that the young Bombers trio is having in 2021.
Surely one of them earns the round 12 nomination. All three, again, played a role in an Essendon win, against West Coast at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
Their official stats don't tell the full story. If there was a reading for "energy" and "preparedness to take the game on" in all of their game in 2021, their numbers would be through the roof. And as impactful as Darcy Parish, Zach Merrett, Cale Hooker, Jake Stringer, Dyson Heppell, Jayden Laverde, Nick Hind, Mason Redman and others have been in the Bombers surge, the kids have more than played a role.
They've become a must-watch outfit, the Bombers. No idea what they were doing the previous five seasons under John Worsfold.
>> Watch all the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft picks LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on AFL.com.au and the AFL Live Official App from 6.30pm AEST on Wednesday, June 2