Collingwood’s zoning defence, led by star backman Darcy Moore, has come under scrutiny after Friday night’s 48-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.
The Bulldogs’ six-goal blitz in the opening term set up the big win for Luke Beveridge’s side, while it marked the Magpies’ fifth loss from their last seven games.
Critically, Moore in the first quarter sagged off Aaron Naughton to allow the star Dogs forward space to lead up the ground and make a big impact on the contest.
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Naughton finished with 16 disposals, six marks, seven score engagements and kicked 3.2 in an instrumental performance, while battling through a knee issue in the second half.
It came a week after Moore, who recently signed a lucrative six-year extension with the Pies reportedly worth $5.4 million, copped criticism for giving Tom Lynch too much freedom in the power forward’s dominant six-goal outing in Richmond’s 27-point win over Collingwood .
And speaking on Fox Footy Live post-match, Geelong great Cameron Mooney didn’t hold back in his assessment of how Moore backed it up against Naughton.
“If you want to be paid like the man, Darcy, you’ve got to play like the man. And tonight you did not play like the man,” the dual premiership Cat said.
“If you’re on (close to) $6 million over six years, you’re the leader. Your teammates expect you to be the best player because you’re paid that way.
“When you allow your opposition player to lead up early in the game, just give him absolute space, after you’ve come off a drumming the week before.”
Mooney highlighted how his former teammate, champion Cats defender Matt Scarlett, always opted to shut down his opponent first, then try and get possessions and impact the game the other way second.
“If anyone got a possession on him (Scarlett), he was so dirty and so angry that he would take it out on his opposition,” he said.
“I don’t see that with Darcy Moore, I see Darcy Moore wanting to get 25 possessions and defending comes second. That’s not what you’re paid for. When you’re a paid defender, you defend first, you attack second.
“And tonight what I saw early in the game when his teammates needed him to stand up, he didn’t do it. By half-time Naughton had 12 possessions, five marks, two goals. He set the standard for the Bulldogs, and I think Darcy set the standard for the Pies.
“There was a time when Geelong was horrible, we were a shocking team. And while we were c**p, he (Scarlett) was excellent. While Collingwood is c**p, I want Darcy Moore to be excellent, because you’re paid (nearly) $6 million.
“He allowed his opponent to take easy marks It’s a dream as a forward.”
North Melbourne legend Davis King was also critical of Moore’s approach, but believes there’s a bigger issue with how Collingwood is defending as a team.
Ten different Bulldogs took marks inside 50 on the night as Magpies’ disorganised defensive zone was constantly exposed.
“I think Collingwood has got real problems, they’re caught in betwixt and between. Are they on a man? Are they zoning? Are they doing neither?” King told Fox Footy.
“I think Darcy Moore at the moment is doing neither. He’s not sure when to roll off. He may be trying to do too much. The biggest threat was Aaron Naughton coming in, Darcy Moore is their best defender. Just go one-on-one and get the job done, it was as simple as that, and it didn’t happen.
“It’s just the ability to get separation so easily, that’s the concern. Darcy is a wonderful player, he’s a star, he’s an interceptor when he wants to be. But it’s just the first two to three steps, where Darcy is giving his opponent a look. Players at this quality, that’s all they need — a look, a step, a meter.
“He took four intercept marks tonight Moore, and that’s not a bad return, and eight intercept disposals. It’s probably more setting the tone that concerns me, it was the first 10-12 minutes of the game.”
The Magpies are now averaging 100 points against them over their last three weeks as their once so reliable defence is dropping off, with Hawks legend Jason Dunstall noting they have “structural and tactical problems” defensively.
Three-time All-Australian Leigh Montagna also pointed out that it goes beyond the back six, pointing to vision of Magpies guys, including Taylor Adams, not being accountable while the Dogs were going inside 50,
“These were the mids, and they all stand around guarding space, but not actually taking care of any other player, referencing someone, even pointing or handing over,” he said on Fox Footy.
“If you want to set standards at your footy club, particularly in the last quarter, the game might have been out of reach. But setting standards you can do right until the final siren. When you’ve one of your leaders (Adams) twice just switching off inside the defensive 50 and allowing mids to take marks, that’s a bit of a concern.
“He’s got to be setting the tone for the younger group that are still learning. You need your leaders to be doing it right every time. That’s the point about Taylor Adams there, Darcy Moore, they are the leaders that need to be setting the tone.”