Alarming stats reveal Dees’ big problem
MELBOURNE Demons coach Simon Goodwin has a few problems right now.
One of them is club great Nathan Jones. The co-captain has been squeezed out of the centre square and, very early this season, he is yet to put his stamp on a secondary position.
Goodwin wants Jones to play on the wing - that's where 56 per cent of his game time has been since Round 15 last year.
In the first half of 2018 Jones attended 21 centre bounces per game, wandering into the wings for only 21 per cent of matches.
But now Jones is standing next to ruckman Max Gawn for less than two centre bounces per quarter.
Gawn calls Melbourne's on-ballers "bulls" - and they are now Clayton Oliver, 21, Angus Brayshaw, 23, James Harmes, 23, and Jack Viney, 24.
For more than a decade that was Jones' turf and you imagine it would've been a difficult conversation when Goodwin told Jones he had a new job description.
In 2019 the 31-year-old's numbers are down, although he isn't exactly Robinson Crusoe there.
But just as alarming as the statistical tumble are the fumbles and bumbles that have crept into his game.
Jones has dropped marks, lost his footing and missed targets. Former Demons coach Mark Neeld noted against the Cats that he "looked out of touch".
Jones is a three-time best-and-fairest winner and it would be foolish to write off a champion.
Is Jones reliable enough by foot to be tried at halfback? Does he have the pressure game to make it as a forward? Or, after two disappointing weeks, will he respond on the wing like both he and the Demons appear capable of?
Jones had a limited pre-season due to a hamstring injury, although Brayshaw rubbished those excuses by pointing to Oliver's career-best 44 disposals against the Cats.
Jones came to terms with his role replacement last finals series.
"The challenge, particularly when you get older, is to adapt and mould yourself in different ways to hopefully have longevity in your career.
"I'm really open to that, that's something I've spoken to Goody about. I want to extend my career as long as possible."
The famous footage of Jones booting the winning goal early in the final quarter of last year's elimination final against Geelong will burn as famous Demons footage for a long time.
It was the first final Jones had played in 13 years and his joy reverberated around the football world.
A similar celebration could erupt if he responds against Essendon at the MCG under the Friday night lights.
Rounds 1-12 2018 v Round 15 2018- Round 2 2019
Disposals 26.3 - 22.3
Contested possessions 10.7 - 6.9
Uncontested possessions 15.7 - 16
Clearances 4.5 - 2.4
Score involvements 6.7 - 5.2
Pressure points 40 - 29.5
Centre bounces attended 21 - 7.5
Time on wing 21% - 56%
Source CHAMPION DATA