ESSENDON has gone from blue collar to red-faced. 

Seven rounds into this season the Bombers have produced just one win – a four-point victory over Adelaide at Marvel Stadium – and they sit third bottom on the ladder.

Coach Ben Rutten wanted his side to be a reliable, dependable, consistent team when he took the reins in 2021 and the Bombers made steps towards that by surprising and featuring in the finals last year. 

But the story of 2022 has been vastly different, with key players missing, list depth questioned, big names dropped and a gameplan that is difficult to read and appearing hard to implement. 

Essendon is a six-goal worse team in 2022 than last year. After averaging 88 points a game last year, ranking them fourth in the AFL, they are kicking on average 76 points this season, ranking them 14th. 

Essendon players leave the field after the loss to Western Bulldogs in round seven on May 1, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

But the killer has been in what they have conceded. Essendon ranks 16th for points given up – 105 a game – comparing to 81 a game last year.  

Rutten this week implored his side to play an "aggressive" brand of football against the Hawks on Saturday night, asking for "flair" and dare in ball movement and style. 

The statistics show that a stark change is required. Champion Data's numbers paint the picture for Essendon's woes this year, showing the Bombers to be bottom-four in contested possession differential, inside-50 differential, time in forward half differential, scores from stoppages differential, scores from turnover differential and transitioning the ball from their defensive-50 to inside 50.

They are also ranked last in giving up goals per inside 50 for the opposition and also for their pressure factor – a point clear in coast-to-coast goals given up against the Western Bulldogs last week. 

Essendon was the No.1 side for tackle differential last season, but is now back in 12th spot in the AFL for that stat so far this season. Put simply, the Bombers are battling to win the ball, move it forward, lock it in attack, score and apply pressure. It's the five-point plan for football failure. 

Dylan Shiel after Essendon's loss to the Western Bulldogs in round seven on May 1, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

There are many factors to Essendon's miserable malaise – injuries to key players, others out of form, key unavailabilities and simply a list that does not have the depth required in key positions – but the numbers themselves show a side that is either not following instruction or, as Rutten said this week, not executing it well enough. 

"There's a level of frustration from everyone – the players, coaches, probably externally as well – and it's more around our consistency and our ability to execute the way we want to more frequently," he said.

"We're seeing it at times and there's some really positive parts of our game, but we're not seeing it enough often enough and consistently enough and that's what we're striving to do. We understand we're never going to play a perfect game and get it right all the time but we're working really hard."

Essendon needs that to click into gear soon. After the Hawks, they face Sydney at the SCG, Richmond and Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval before their round 12 bye. 


2022 Avg.


2021 Avg.


Points for





Points against





Contested possession differential





Inside 50 differential





Time in forward half differential





Clearance differential





Scores from stoppages differential





Scores from turnover differential





D50 to inside 50%





Shot at goal accuracy %





Goal per inside 50%





Goal per inside 50 against %





Tackle differential





Pressure factor