Nathan Buckley has assessed his expectation meter for all 18 AFL clubs.
Prior to the 2022 season, Buckley forecast the amount of wins each club would have and what his expectations would be of them.
Now he has decided whether they have met, exceeded or failed expectations.
In the first of a three-part series, he will take a look at six clubs starting from the middle of the ladder and working our way out.
See Buckley’s expectation meter from SEN’s Whateley for Carlton, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, Richmond and Gold Coast below.
(12-10, 9th) - Met expectations
“At the beginning of the year I had them between eight wins and 13, and they finished with 12.
“They had exceeded my expectations earlier in the year to get to 8-2. Their best football was brilliant, contested footy, clearance, tall forwards who were actually impacting really well and small forwards who were then getting to work.
“Their best was (as good as) a top-four side. We even saw that at the end without Matthew Kennedy, George Hewett and Sam Walsh in the last two games - Walsh played the Melbourne game - but they nearly beat two top-four sides. They ran them to within a kick of winning both games and probably should have won both.
“The back-half of the season they’d be disappointed with 4-8. I thought they met expectations at the end, but they definitely had exceeded them early.”
(11-11, 10th) - Met expectations
“I had them winning as little as eight and as many as 12.
“They won 11 so they met expectations across the year. At 8-3, they had exceeded and I was mystified as to how they were doing it.
“I thought their defensive stuff worked really well, Josh Battle, Dougal Howard and Callum Wilkie were really strong early in the year. Jack Sinclair was a standout but he was continuing his form over the last couple of years.
“What they had at the beginning of the year that they didn’t have late in the year was their offensive efficiency. Jack Higgins, Max King and Tim Membrey were three of the most damaging in the top 10. You kicked to them, you score.
“They lost that offensive efficiency. Whether it was those players dropping off, whether it was some form of structure change, or whether it was the opposite just working them out and defending them better, St Kilda just couldn’t sustain that and went 3-8 in the back half (of the season).”
(12-10, 8th) - Failed expectations
“I had them as unders. I thought the fewest wins they would get would be 13 and had them up to 17.
“Off a Grand Final last year, what legacy does that leave? What marks does that leave on the players when you get smacked in the last quarter and a half the way they did?
“They’ve been a mystifying team. Their DNA is not as consistent around their contested ball and clearance. Marcus Bontempelli was hobbled early which really hurt them.
“There’s been question marks over their key defensive posts and the support for Aaron Naughton. Josh Bruce was a big out (early) and he’d been there in previous years. Alex Keath missed a big part of it.
“They’ve really limped in to eighth position, but this is a position that Luke Beveridge and the Dogs don’t mind being in. Everybody sort of counts them out and I reckon they’re even money going over to Freo.
“I still reckon right now with where they’ve qualified, I think they’re unders.”
(10-12, 11th) - Failed expectations
“I have them as unders.
“I had them as a lock for top eight, but I did have them as swingers. I thought they would be anywhere down to 12 wins and up to 17, and they ended up with 10.
“I have them as underachievers. 0-5 is a really bad start. No Charlie Dixon hurt early.
“We say ok, Connor Rozee and Zak Butters have gone into the midfield and it’s freshened it up and it’s looked great, Rozee has had a standout season and continued his rise. Everyone says, ‘Well why didn’t you do it earlier?’. Not every young player is ready so just because they can do it in the second half of the season, it doesn’t mean they were ready to do it in the first half of the season.
“This is natural evolution and it was forced in some way.
“Todd Marshall was a real positive, Dan Houston a real positive, Sam Powell-Pepper towards the end was really good, Mitch Georgiades shows flashes but needs to harden up and do it more consistently.
“Their defence just wasn’t as strong, and I think that’s where they fell down.”
(13-8-1, 7th) - Met expectations
“For a lot of people it may be overs, but I thought they met. I had them as a lock (for finals).
“I thought they could win as many as 16 and I had them for as little as 11, and they got 13.5. They’ve just rewired.
“No Dylan Grimes is a big question mark going forward.
“But their forward line in the 2020 Grand Final was Castagna, Lambert, Martin, D.Rioli, Edwards, Riewoldt and Lynch. Now they’ve got Noah Cumberland in there, they’ve got Tyler Sonsie who is going in there, Shai Bolton who is probably replacing Dustin Martin as the match-winner, and they’ve got Maurice Rioli instead of half-back Dan Rioli who has played an amazing season.
“So we’ve had constant change and requiring, but they’ve kicked 200 goals from turnover this year. The last time that was done was them in 2018. They’re the number one offence in the competition.”
(10-12, 12th) - Met expectations
“It was a definitely a step forward.
“They got 7-6 and went into Round 15 and lost a game to Port by two points and a game to Collingwood by five points.
“They were a couple of kicks away from being 9-6 and then I looks like a different season, but they did not take their chances in the last six games when they had a chance to contend.
“Izak Rankine was good for them and they’ll have to regenerate there.
“I think they met expectations. I had them winning as little as six and as many as 12 and they were at the top end of that.”