Star Bomber Dylan Shiel says Essendon won’t turn its back on its fast and exciting brand as the side strives to develop a more consistent game style.
Shiel admitted the run-and-gun tactics that have featured prominently in Essendon’s recent seasons can be a double-edged sword at times, but he said the Dons should continue to embrace the strengths of the dynamic squad.
“We’re not going to try to be a team that we’re not,” Shiel said on 3AW on Thursday.
“We’ve got strengths, we’ve got speed and guys who are able to move the ball quickly, so we’re not going to do a complete 180 on who we are and how we can move the ball.
“We’re just trying to evolve and improve it, and if that means not going fast all the time then that’s what will be required.”
Much of the side’s scoring in 2019 was driven by the aggressive and counterattacking nature of its backline, led by dashing defenders Conor McKenna and Adam Saad who finished first and second in the league for running bounces for the second year on the trot.
And while only minor adjustments to the game plan are expected, Shiel said he is confident it can stand up on a more consistent basis this year.
“It’s low percentage to be able to score from fast play in the defensive 50 and that was a key strength of Essendon. It’s just understanding what is the best and most consistent way to score when you’re not compromised defensively at the other end.
“There were probably times throughout the year where our strength and our speed was also our biggest weakness and we were exposed at the other end.
“Teams that have a really good balance between offence and defence and have great balance around the ground were able to get the job done on us, but that’s something that we’ve been working on.
“In terms of difference of game style, there is going to be no difference. We’re still going to have our own identity at the Bombers, but we’re just going to be trying to be more consistent and have a really good balance from offence to defence.
“Ben Rutten is head of the defence and Blake (Caracella) has come over from Richmond and is head of the offence and we think they’re complementing each other really well.”
The Bombers will get their first chance to put the tactics on show when they take on West Coast in the Marsh Community Series on February 27.