Footy critics have questioned how the Crows would replace Kurt Tippett but after their opening match, we are left with more questions than answers. Tippett booted 39 goals for the Crows and one of the queries footy fans have is who is going to pick up the slack.
If we ignore the opening 15 minutes or so in Adelaide’s first match of the season against Essendon, Adelaide was second best on a ground it would like to think is its fortress. Despite only losing one match at AAMI Stadium all season in 2012, the Crows were outgunned by a grittier and more determined Bombers outfit.
Adelaide’s midfield was shutdown but the real question to come from the match was the forward situation. Taylor Walker kicked three goals from his four marks but more crucially, he lacked support around him.
Other than Richard Douglas, the Crows offered very little going forward. In seasons gone by, the dynamic duo of Tippett and Walker would usually produce the goods. If one player was having an off night, the other one would usually fire and carry the team to victory.
In the opening round, Walker was left isolated and the Essendon defence had one clear target in which they had to nullify. Despite Walker having a decent night, it was those around him who failed to offer much support.
It has been well documented as to how Kurt Tippett left the club but the Crows must now find a fix to a massive hole left by his departure. Adelaide only managed to kick 11 goals against the Bombers, a figure it must better in the games to come if it is to make September.
If we take a look at some stats, we begin to see how arduous the task of replacing Tippett will be. Despite being the Crows’ second-highest goalkicker in 2012, he led his team in contested marks, one of the most important parts of our game.
Tippett amassed 50 contested grabs over his 21-game 2012 season, making him third-highest last season. This stat typifies how crucial it is that Adelaide finds a replacement for him sooner rather than later. Tippett also managed to take 47 marks inside 50, placing him 12th in 2012.
When analysing Tippett’s potential replacements, it is hard to go past Josh Jenkins. A neglected Essendon rookie, Jenkins moved across to Adelaide in the 2011 off-season, playing a modest 11 matches and averaging a goal a game. Jenkins continued that goal-a-game run with another single-goal effort in his opening match of the 2013 season.
Despite being a solid player, Jenkins is being look upon as the man to replace Kurt Tippett. For such a young footballer still finding his way, it is unrealistic to expect much from him. If Adelaide is to have another successful season, more experienced campaigners are going to have to step up to the plate.
Despite harbouring midfield aspirations, Adelaide may need to bite the bullet and play Jason Porplyzia as a permanent forward. Porplyzia amassed 30 majors in 2012 and has the talent to significantly better than figure. He has shown his superior marking and kicking skills over his career and it may just be time for him to make the permanent move in the forward 50.
Porplyzia has the talent to significantly help Taylor Walker in the Adelaide forward half. While Jenkins has been thrust into midst of the action, he is unlikely to have much of an impact in 2012. He is no doubt a solid player but after just one game, major concerns must be raised over the likeliness of him being a realistic forward target in the short term.
The Crows’ season might only be a single game old but in just one match, their one flaw has been seriously exposed. Over the course of the night, Adelaide pumped the ball into the forward 50 more often than not rather than pinpointing targets that it was so accustom to last year.
Whilat Josh Jenkins may hold the converted number four guernsey this season now that Kurt Tippett has left, he isn’t the answer for right now. If the Crows are to do anything serious in 2013, more experienced heads will need to step up in order to fill the hole left by Tippett.
The Crows were just one kick off a Grand Final berth in 2012 and if they successfully replace Tippett, it will herald a new and exciting era for them. Despite losing a genuine superstar, this presents an exciting opportunity for someone else to step up and make their mark in 2013.