ESSENDON defender Mason Redman concedes Bombers players have been "letting down" coach Ben Rutten in the early part of the season, with Saturday night's comeback win over Hawthorn a potential turning point for the club.
After making the finals last year, Essendon slumped to a 1-6 start to this season, with the club's game style and brand questioned with a string of disappointing losses.
But after a set of difficult circumstances – the Bombers lost five players pre-game to illness – the club overcame a 15-point deficit at three-quarter time to storm over the Hawks with an eight-goal last quarter.
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Redman, who has been among Essendon's most consistent players this season, said Rutten, football manager Josh Mahoney and the coaching panel had been consistent in their messaging across the first section of the season but that it hadn't been executed on-field.
"It's reward for effort," Redman told AFL.com.au of the win over the Hawks.
"I feel like we've been putting in a lot of good work in on the track and not necessarily seeing the rewards on the weekend so it's good to just repay the faith to 'Truck' (Rutten) and 'Mahns' and the footy department a bit because we've been letting them down on the field. We trust them 100 per cent. We've just got to keep showing it on the field.
"The messaging has been very much the same from Truck and all the coaches, it's just our ability to execute on gameday.
"I feel like we've been letting them down a fair bit as a playing group. We've been probably underperforming but it's good to go out there and finally get reward for effort and hopefully get the ball rolling on our season."
The Bombers head to the SCG this week to face Sydney with their season placed at 2-6 – the same position they recovered from to finish in the top eight in 2021. Redman said after the win over the Hawks that the club use the similarities for optimism about what lays ahead.
"It's a different year but it gives us good confidence. We know we have 100 per cent trust in the group if we show up the way we want to and play the way we want to that the Bombers' brand of football will come out on top," he said.
"It's that consistency across the four quarters. Even [against the Hawks] I definitely wouldn't say we were perfect by any means but we were just able to bring it for longer."
Redman finished with 27 disposals and five rebound-50s against the Hawks and was among Essendon's best on the night, but nearly didn't play after battling illness as well.
The 24-year-old said he woke up on Saturday as "crook as a dog" but decided to play when he realised others were forced to pull out.
"As soon as I woke up I genuinely thought I wasn't going to play. The doc told me to have a shower and have some medicine and I started coming good. I still came in coughing and spluttering but I was keeping my distance from the boys. I knew once I got out there there'd be no excuses and I wasn't going to let the boys down," Redman said.
"I found out there was probably four or five boys out and I didn't want to leave the boys hanging. I knew once I made the decision to play I wasn't going to make any excuses and would tough it out."
His impact included a disallowed long goal in the final quarter as Essendon charged ahead, which brought on rapturous celebrations after he banged home the kick from outside 50. But it was denied after a goal-line free kick went the way of the Hawks, seeing the Bombers scramble from allowing their opponents a very quick response.
"As soon as I hit it I knew it was going through, I knew I had the distance. We started celebrating and then one of the boys said the ball was coming back in and we had to get into our defence. It was lucky we were able to stop it from there – it would have been pretty rough if they took it straight down the other end and kicked a goal," he said.