Breakdown Example: Essendon’s Miscommunication

We’ve stumbled across a clip that grabbed our attention from Essendon’s Round Four clash with Carlton. The clip provides a quick, simple example of a communication breakdown, leading to the Blue’s mark inside 50.

We published the breakdown via a twitter thread you can see here, but we thought we’d also upload the same content to our site for any readers absent from Twitter (plus we don’t have much content on this site).

The Bombers will be hoping to rectify these types of communication breakdowns versus Collingwood this week given the aerial presence of Mason Cox and Brody Mihocek. Players like Jamie Elliot and Will Hoskin-Elliot also provide options aerially for the Pies. In this example, both Hurley and Hooker are caught defending much smaller opposition (Michael Gibbons and Eddie Betts), allowing Carlton to utilise such mismatches, taking an easy mark inside 50.

The whole clip is below, followed by a breakdown of key moments in the sequence.

Key moments to consider

1. Hurley’s matchup & position

Carlton have possession from an Essendon out-on-the-full kick. Numbers are even ahead of the ball with six forwards versus six defenders. Essendon have a good mismatch with Hurley marked by Gibbons (circled). Essendon must ensure they maximise this mismatch by providing Hurley a clean run & jump at the intercept mark.

2. Communication breakdown between lines

Communication between Dylan Shiel & Mason Redman (circled) breaks down as Redman attempts to contain both Marc Murphy (Shiel’s direct opponent) and Jack Martin. 

Considering the position on the field with a long kick inside 50 expected, this at first doesn’t seem pivotal, but what follows next leads to a mark inside 50.

3. Martin utilises space to stretch Essendon defence

Martin (circled with arrow) identifies the potential 2v1 he and Murphy have created. He pushes back into space toward the boundary. Shiel and Redman scramble to cover.

Down the line, Casboult receives a block from his teammate, which forces a handover. The undersized Ridley is now on Casboult. Hooker, matched with Betts, should look to handover Betts to Ridley, but the Bomber’s defensive awareness is lacking.

4. Space opens up inside 50

Hurley, Essendon’s best intercept defender, becomes distracted by Martin’s isolation in forward 50. The mixup between Shiel and Redman has dragged Hurley away from the incoming contest, leaving a hole in front of Casboult to lead into. Given the difficulty of the kick that would be required to find Martin uncontested, Hurley should’ve held his position in order to intercept or spoil. This could also be rectified by Essendon communication coming from behind, urging Hurley to forget Martin.

5. The final product

Ridley (circled at back of contest) loses Casboult with the ball in the air. Hooker failed to handover Betts, despite matching Casboult’s physical profile better.

Hurley (circled on right) shifted his full attention to Martin, rendering him useless in any marking contest. Martin, along with Murphy have successfully capitalised on an Essendon communication breakdown between midfielder and defender. 

Now that you’ve followed along with our breakdown of the sequence, scroll up and rewatch the initial clip. We hope the points we’ve highlighted provide you with an insight into potential impact of communication breakdowns, especially in the defensive half.