Brisbane has lost its first three games of 2016 and it needs to make changes to its playing style. This “run and gun” game plan is not working for now so tweaks must be made to make it work.
The Lions are making the usual mistakes that they have been in recent years. They take too much time to think when they have the ball, their disposals by hand and foot are short, and they handball themselves into trouble.
When the player with the ball handballs to a teammate, he takes pressure off himself but the teammate who receives the footy is already under pressure. The player who receives the ball is not in space and usually there are opposition players ready to tackle him.
Brisbane’s players struggle to make smart decisions. When they dispose of the ball by going sideways and backwards, they lack purpose. It seems that they do it to maintain possession and nothing else. When the Lions play at a slow tempo or become indecisive, they invite pressure from the opposition. If they take a long time to bring the ball back into play, they allow enough time for the opposition to set themselves up.
When Brisbane has registered wins in the Leppitsch era, the Lions have usually had space to play the game or they created space for themselves when the opposition try to tighten things up.
For instance, Brisbane played fast, instinctive and direct footy when they defeated Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs at the Gabba in 2015. The Lions are not the type of team to chip the ball around the ground like Hawthorn and West Coast and the Western Bulldogs have shown under Luke Beveridge that youth is not an excuse. If you can organise a team and put your players into positions that suit their characteristics, they can do well.
Brisbane should play at a fast tempo because they have quick players and that speed should be use to the team’s advantage but they need space to really use it to great effect.
Goals obviously win games so the faster the Lions get the footy into the forward 50, the more chances they have to score. That requires going directly though because a team goes nowhere by kicking the ball sideways and backwards.
Since the Brisbane players have shown that they are poor at decision making, they need to be fast and instinctive so they can reduce their thinking time. Leppitsch needs to instruct his players to take the game on and make them believe that taking big risks will result in big rewards.
Handballs must be cut down drastically because the Lions create too many turnovers from them. Hawthorn and Geelong are different because the players make overlapping runs and they handball vertically or diagonally, which Brisbane struggle to do.
The focus for the Lions should be on kicking long, especially with key forwards like Josh Walker, Josh Schache and Jonathan Freeman on the list.
Even if Brisbane doesn’t kick to a contest or to a player on the lead, there must be kicks into an area of space in which a play can run into.
It is easy for people to use youth, injuries and the fixture as an excuse but the Lions need to improve tactically to make themselves more competitive.