Season 2021 was an improvement for the Crows after picking up the wooden spoon in 2020, as they nearly doubled their win tally from 2020. Matthew Nicks’ side still has a long way to go, but can they begin to challenge the top eight?
Jack Tobin will be previewing EVERY team in the lead up to the 2022 season, while PuntingInDanger and his crew will be back this year to give their betting tips on every game. Be sure to head to the AFL Tips page for regular updates!
Adelaide Crows Season Preview
In: Jordan Dawson (Sydney), Josh Rachelle (Pick 6), Jake Soligo (Pick 37), Zac Taylor (Pick 44)
Out: Jake Kelly (Essendon)
Gaining Jordan Dawson’s services was a huge success for the Crows during the 2021 Trade Period. The 24 year old had a breakout season last year for the Swans averaging 22 disposals per game, and fills a position and an age bracket that the Crows definitely need. The draft strategy was questionable, picking up three very similar players under 181cm. While Rachelle, Soligo and Taylor’s talent is undoubted, the Crows have been crying out for a tall midfielder, and picking three midfielder/small forwards was an intriguing call.
2021 started on fire for the Crows with a 3-1 record after the first four games, Taylor Walker led the Coleman, before the Crows went 4-14 over the remaining eighteen weeks of the season as they finished 15th. Adelaide’s lack of midfield depth became apparent as Rory Laid (32 disposals per game) and Ben Keays (28) got very little support from their fellow on-ballers, as the Crows ranked 17th for disposals. Jordan Dawson has been earmarked to play a wing/inside mid role which will provide some help, but it’s still a very thin midfield overall.
The Crows ranked 14th for scoring last season and much like their midfield, their lack of depth hurts them over the length of a 22 game season. Taylor Walker got back to his best form last season kicking 48 goals from 17 games, but Adelaide’s next highest goal kicker was Shane McAdam with 25 majors. Walker will miss the first three games of 2022 as he’s still serving his ban from racist comments he made at a SANFL game last year, and there’s a lot of doubt whether he can get back to his best footy with this saga looming over him. It leaves a lot of pressure on Riley Thilthorpe in his second season as the main target inside 50, which is a major concern for the Crows.
Matthew Nicks’ game plan started to take some shape in 2021, with the Crows looking to take an attacking approach as often as possible with ball in hand. It came off in their upset wins over Melbourne and Geelong but it did leave them vulnerable, conceding 100+ points eight times last season and 90+ points eleven times.
Breakout Player: Harry Schoenberg
Schoenberg was given midfield opportunities in his second season as he averaged 18 disposals per game in 2021. Schoenberg finished 2021 in hot form picking up disposal tallies of 24, 24, 21, 31, 16 and 24 in the last six games of the season. With the Crows looking to give their young mids more opportunities, expect to see Schoenberg get some more minutes in the midfield this season and coming into his third season, he’s primed to make a big jump.
What Do The Crows Need To Do This Season?
There’s next to no pressure on Adelaide this season with their side still clearly in a development phase. The Crows biggest focus in 2022 needs to be giving opportunities to their younger mids over the likes of Crouch and Sloane. With the likes of Schoenberg, Hatley, Sholl and Hamill being in the system for a few years, the Crows need to start giving them more time in the midfield over their ageing veterans.
It’s going to be a similar season for the Crows in 2022, as they haven’t really addressed any of their problems from last season. Wins aren’t really all that important given the Crows are still rebuilding, however they’d want to at least reach the seven win mark that they did in 2021. The Crows have the biggest home ground advantage of the sides that are likely to feature in the bottom six this season, so the Crows shouldn’t be worried about winning the wooden spoon this season. There will be player improvement and an improvement in game style in the third season of the Matthew Nicks era, however there won’t be much of a difference in their position from last season.