With Max Gawn on the sidelines, the door remains open for someone to barge on through and take the lead over the next few weeks.
Who will it be?
When I first started this, I had a vision of a few players sitting atop the table by now.
I pictured Max Gawn, who is consistently targeted by the Demons as their ‘get out of jail’ option sitting atop the rankings. I pictured Matt Taberner, with his strong hands right up the top, as well. We have come off a period with Gawn in full flight, as he took the lead, but now he faces a month on the sidelines. Taberner, too, has struggled to stay on the park.
And that has caused me to re-evaluate.
This season, we commenced a new stats column at The Mongrel Punt, focusing on the players who take the big grabs to relieve the pressure on their teams. They don’t all have to be contested, but they are the clunks down the line or as a team exits defensive fifty that tend to open the game up. I call them Get out of Jail marks, or ‘GooJ’ marks, for short, and whilst I don’t think it is something that will be widely picked up, it is a stat that is underrated in terms of the value it gives a team.
We tend to get caught up in certain stats when it comes to the AFL. One of them that has become a stat of high importance has been intercept grabs.
Players such as Jake Lever, Aliir Aliir, and Jacob Weitering have made names for themselves picking off the errant kicks of the opposition and continue to have a high profile in the league as a result. But from where I sit, playing as a +1, or coming in over the top to take a grab as your teammates take the heat and hold the fort against the forwards is not the most important type of mark in the game.
Of course, marks inside 50 reign supreme. They result in a shot at goal and can inflict maximum damage on an opposition, but the GooJ mark is pretty highly rated at Mongrel HQ. It is the release valve on the pressure gauge, shifting an entire defence and opening up opportunities for a team to get creative and work the ball into attack, as opposed to settling for a stoppage and hoping for the best.
Think about it – how many times do you see the defensive wall built across the middle and half forward? The defence frantically exits 50 and it comes back in with interest. The GooJ mark kills that – it breaks down the wall and allows a team to start an attack of their own. Yet, you never hear anyone speak of it. Til now, I guess.
The other option was to call this the “Bail Out” mark… or the “BO” mark. But that makes it sound like it stinks, so GooJ mark it is.
Before we dive into this week’s results and the overall leaderboard, here’s a little description as to what constitutes a GooJ mark.
It is a mark that can only be taken by a player when his team has the footy. He provides the target to get the team out of jail.
It can only be taken between the fifty-metre arcs. This is an arbitrary decision, as it is meant to highlight the blokes who take grabs when the teams are forced to go down the line or take the only option they can to exit defence..
As such, it is only recorded when a player presents up as the primary target as the team either leaves the defensive fifty, or works down the wing.
I’m adding this one as a quantifier, as I have had a couple of “what about so-and-so?” questions asked already. GooJ marks happen on slow plays. It is no use attempting to justify a mark, or several marks in this category when a team is breaking and moving the ball quickly. If they’re doing that, they’re not really getting out of jail, are they?
The GooJ mark ladder identifies the players that give their teams the best possible avenue to exit defensive fifty, clunk grabs to relieve the pressure, and work the ball down the ground when short passing avenues are closed off.
I gave you the first column for free in Round One. It was met with a rapturous response… or at least a comment or two. From Round Two onwards, this slots into our members column rotation every week – The Mongrel does the work for those who support us.
Here are the players that took the big “GooJ” marks in Round 14, and our overall leaderboard.
Paywall… what a pain, right? Well, it is how we survive and keep the page clean of gambling ads. Yeah, that’s right – we don’t just talk about how bad they are, we just don’t accept their coin. This article is the sixth of five – maybe six members’ articles this week (shorter week). Yep, the sixth of five – great stuff, me. You can access this, additional exclusive columns, and get the game reviews from HB earlier than everyone else by becoming a Mongrel Member. Plus, you help us grow.