Justin Leppitsch remains confident about Carlton’s direction, despite their 3-5 record and their late collapse against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
They conceded six last-quarter goals to give up a 27-point lead against one of the competition’s top teams in the loss.
The former premiership Lion sees a few tweaks that can be made to solidify the Blues behind the ball.
“I think they’re playing really good footy, they’re competing hard, their effort is there. If you’re a fan of Carlton, you’d be really rapt with the way they soldier on and turn up every week,” Leppitsch told SEN’s Whateley.
“The margins aren’t big. It’s the high scores against, particularly from turnover. They’re ranked fifth in the AFL for back-half points from turnover. So when they win the ball back, they’re good at getting it down the other end.
“But they’re ranked 18th back the other way. That’s the ‘my turn your turn’ analogy. Going back the other way teams hurt them as well.
“Looking at their numbers a little bit and we know Jacob Weitering is elite at marking the footy. They’re ranked second at winning the ball back from a mark, so that’s a really good part of their game, but they’re ranked 16th in winning it back on the ground.
“The better teams are really good at both. It’s similar to West Coast who are really good with Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barras winning it in the air, but not quite as good at ground level.
“I think if they set up with an extra number behind the footy, the challenge with team defence is you usually do it over a summer for three months so it’s very hard to incorporate a grid. That takes a pre-season to get together and get that understanding.
“The only thing you can really do in a week is use spares behind the footy. It’s a bit easier to communicate. Pick one particular player to play as a spare to start that potential ground-level win.
“As I said, they’re really competitive in the air, but if Weitering or Liam Jones don’t mark it and hits the deck, they’re not winning that ground level ball in their back half.
“All in all, I think they’re going okay and are relatively competitive.”
Before the Bulldogs game, Carlton coach David Teague stated he was happy for the game to be a shootout so long as his club kicked more goals.
Leppitsch believes that given the Blues’ offensive power, a defensive clamping could be all they need.
“We spoke about the David Teague comments about making it a shootout. They’re one win and four losses when the opposition score over 100 points and they’re 2-1 when the opposition scores under 100 points,” Leppitsch said.
“If you’re looking at that now, their goal is to have a shootout which basically means you’re giving the opposition over 100 points and they’re not winning that cycle.
“The AFL average is around 80. If they brought it down to 90, they would win more games. Even if they bring it just a few goals down they will be better off. There’s some small tweaks there.”
Carlton faces an equally challenging task this weekend, playing the undefeated Melbourne on the MCG.