18 Teams in 18 Days: Carlton Blues

2017: 16th (6 wins – 16 losses)

Key Acquisition:

Matt Kennedy (from GWS), Darcy Lang (from Geelong), Aaron Mullett (from North Melbourne), Matthew Lobbe (from Port Adelaide), Paddy Dow (AFL Draft – Pick #3)

Key Losses

Bryce Gibbs (to Adelaide)

Million Dollar Question

How much progress will the Blues make in year 3 under Brendan Bolton? Generally year 3 is when the “Honey Moon” period starts to wear off at clubs and serious progress and improvements are expected. This may sound harsh heading into a season in which the Blues will be without their two best players from last season (Best and Fairest winner Sam Docherty out with a torn ACL and gun midfielder Bryce Gibbs now at the Crows), but the Blues have to be seen to be making making strides in season 2018. Fans can only put up with token signs of success such as NAB Riding Star nominations and honourable losses for so long, it’s time for one of the least successful teams of the modern era to get back to winning ways.

Case For

Despite the loss of Bryce Gibbs, the Blues recruited sneakily well this offseason and will be looking to inject some young talent into the midfield this season. Offseason recruits Matt Kennedy (from GWS) and Darcy Lang (from Geelong) look like being great pickups who should relish the chance for opportunities in the midfield at their new club. Their first pick in this years draft, midfielder Paddy Dow, looks to be a perfect compliment to established stars Paddy Cripps and skipper Marc Murphy, with his elite mix of toughness and explosiveness from the contest. Throw in 2017 NAB rising star nominees Sam Petrevski-Seton, Zac Fisher and David Cunningham, and this is an exciting midfield group starting to take shape.

Case Against

That darn forward line. It feels like it’s been Carlton’s Achilles heel for the last 50 years, and so it was again in 2017 (Carlton were the only team not to kick a score over 100 last season), and it looks to be the case in 2018. Carlton had only 6 players kick a dozen or more goals last season, and one of them was Gibbs. Levi Casboult “won” the teams goal kicking last year with just 34 goals. Coach Brendan Bolton looks like he insists on turning star young defender Jacob Weitering into a forward, the problem being Weitering looks so at home in defense ( Weitering played all 22 games last season and only kicked 7 goals, though he didn’t spend the entirety of the season up forward). Compounding the issue is the Blues don’t boast a midfield capable of hitting the scoreboard either. Behind Gibbs, Marc Murphy kicked the most goals of any true midfield last season with 11. That’s 1 goal every two weeks. For Carlton to push for an unlikely finals berth, the midfielders must be hitting the scoreboard regularly to aid an anemic forward line.

One to Watch

It won’t take Blues fans long to fall in love with first year player Paddy Dow. Possessing footy smarts and a dream mix of inside grunt and outside pace, Blues fans will enjoy paying up to go to the footy to see Dow and Cripps dominating in the midfield for the Blues for years to come.

Bold Prediction

Bolton will unleash the shackles a bit more in year 3, with the young Blues to play a flamboyant brand of football that makes for great fan viewing, if not in September.

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