BEN RUTTEN was given the keys to Essendon's team defence when he first walked through the door as an assistant at the end of 2018.

But four years later, the now senior coach is overseeing a defensive disaster that reached its low point of the year last Friday night when they were walked through by the previously bottom-placed West Coast.

West Coast registered its first triple-figure score of this season – 16.11 (107) – and first since round seven last year as the Eagles notched just their second win of the season. After a horror, COVID and injury-struck season, West Coast is now just one win behind the Bombers on the ladder.

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Spotlight on Rutten's 'soulless' Bombers

Matthew Lloyd and Damian Barrett discuss Essendon's lack of improvement under coach Ben Rutten on Access All Areas

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The numbers show how Essendon's defensive woes against the Eagles were the rule rather than the exception in 2022.

The Bombers have conceded on average 94.8 points a game this season, ranking them 15th in the AFL. It is the most they have conceded since 2016, when they were stripped of a dozen of their most senior players due to season-long suspensions and claimed the wooden spoon.

Essendon's defensive struggles have been long felt: in 2018 they were ranked 11th for points conceded, the following year 12th, in 2020 they were 15th and last year improved to be ninth. But this year the Bombers have not as much stalled as been in reverse.

West Coast's Josh J. Kennedy passes the ball under pressure from Essendon's Dyson Heppell in round 15 at Optus Stadium on June 24, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Champion Data illustrates just how far off the pace the Bombers are with their defensive ability. Essendon has conceded a score from 47 per cent of opposition inside-50s, which ranks them second last in the AFL and their worst result since 2017.

They have the highest percentage of points conceded via turnover of any club in the competition (62.1 per cent), showing once they give up the ball they struggle to get it back, and they have conceded 37.1 points a game from opposition chains which start in the defensive half, which ranks them 17th.

They have allowed their opposition to generate an inside-50 entry from 26.8 per cent of defensive 50 chains – ranked 16th – and a score from 12 per cent of the chains, which is the worst in the AFL.

Whilst the team defence hasn't been up to scratch, the backline itself has battled to stop the deluge of opposition opportunities.

Mason Redman (left) walks off the ground after the round 10 clash between Essendon and Richmond at the MCG on May 21, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

They rank second worst in the AFL for defending one-on-one contests in their defensive 50 (they've lost 36.4 per cent of contests) and have allowed their opposition to retain the ball from 51.3 per cent of inside-50 kicks, which is 17th in the league.

They've also conceded a mark from 22 per cent of opposition kicks into the forward 50, which is ranked 16th.

All of this makes sense when the Bombers have applied a pressure factor of just 1.74 – which is ranked the worst in the AFL and the club's lowest pressure rating on record since the statistic was first measured in 2010.

It is grim reading for the Bombers, who remedied many of their problems last year to make the finals in Rutten's first season in charge before this year's dramatic drop-off.