Crows crisis: The big questions that need to be asked about Adelaide (2024)

Adelaide's season is at crisis point.

Its hopes of playing in the AFL finals have all but faded after falling to Richmond by eight points at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.

It was the Crows' third loss in the past month and has them languishing in 15th spot on the ladder.

With just four wins so far this season, coach Matthew Nicks has conceded his team is in a dark place and is lacking confidence.

After so much hype in the off-season, his side's current form has raised questions on whether the club should have extended his contract at the start of the year.

Has Adelaide handled the expectations?

The short answer is no.

Adelaide was expected to be one of the big improvers in 2024, with the club handing Nicks a two-year extension on his contract back in March.

With Taylor Walker firing, skipper Jordan Dawson dominating and Izak Rankine coming into his prime, most football pundits tipped the Crows to make finals and even push for the top four.

Nicks conceded following Thursday's loss to the Tigers that his side simply hasn't been good enough.

"We've got no excuses, we just need to be better and at the moment we're not," he told reporters in his post-match press conference.

Crows crisis: The big questions that need to be asked about Adelaide (1)

Seizing momentum has been a big issue for the Crows, conceding six goals to the Tigers in a match-defining third term.

Adelaide also conceded four-straight goals in the first quarter of its loss to Hawthorn in Round 12, and another five-straight either side of half time.

Nicks said it has become a trend.

"We're having periods in games where we just can't stop the opposition for far too long," he said.

"We're not able to change the game without having a time out and it takes us until the end of the quarter to do so."

How much impact is the injury list having?

A lot of teams have been hit hard by injuries this season, with Collingwood and Richmond leading the charge.

However, Adelaide's injury toll needs to be considered when focusing on their recent form.

Key forward Riley Thilthorpe hasn't played a game after suffering a knee injury in the pre-season, while Wayne Milera also suffered a knee injury early in the season.

Defender Nick Murray also hasn't played as he nears a return from an ACL injury, while Josh Worrell broke his forearm last month.

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On top of that, Matt Crouch suffered a shoulder injury in Round 12 and is out for the rest of the season, Taylor Walker has been managing back spasms, and Izak Rankine is still a couple of weeks away from returning from a hamstring injury.

While injuries should never be used as an excuse for any loss, there are a number of key pillars missing from Adelaide's senior side.

Unfortunately for the Crows, the most recent loss to Richmond highlights the impact that consistent effort can have on a young team's chances, despite a lack of experience and talent.

The Tigers were missing Tom Lynch, Jacob Hopper, Marlion Pickett, Maurice Rioli, Jack Ross, Dylan Grimes, Josh Gibcus and Mykelti Lefau among others.

They also rested superstar Dustin Martin ahead of his 300th game next week.

Does Nicks still have the players?

Facing the media the morning after Adelaide's loss to Richmond, forward Ben Keays said the playing group was feeling flat, but still believed in its coach and his game plan.

"There's only so much game-planning and tactics you can do but if you don't get your hands on the footy, you don't win the contest, it's all for nothing really," Keays said.

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"Just keep showing up and keep going to work and keep doing what's asked, you know, we all want to support each other and stick together."

Nicks also admitted after the loss that he's feeling the heat on his job, but says he enjoys the pressure.

"Right now it's at its highest," he said.

"It doesn't mean I'm enjoying it as much as I was a number of weeks ago, but I'll put my head down and go to work like we all will."

Did they extend the coach too early?

Adelaide chairman John Olsen was grilled on Adelaide's poor season last Wednesday, prior to its loss to the Tigers.

Crows crisis: The big questions that need to be asked about Adelaide (4)

He defended the club's decision to extend Nicks's contract in March, and said the club still believes he's the right man to lead the club forward, despite its recent form.

"I, the board, and the CEO have confidence in the coach and the assistant coaches going forward," he said.

"We believed at the time, and still do, that Matthew Nicks is the right coach for the Adelaide Football Club currently.

"We want to give him the best possible chance to bring this young squad up to consistently perform well at AFL level."

Has the club got its recruitment wrong?

Izak Rankine is a superstar and Jordan Dawson has proven to be a great leader for the Crows.

But, outside of that, no-one has really put their hand up this season as a genuine, consistent star.

Taylor Walker is close to the end of his career and Rory Sloane's retired – and it's hard to pinpoint who the next potential stars will be.

Josh Rachele has showed glimpses but hasn't performed consistently and Riley Thilthorpe is injury prone.

And then there's the midfield.

Adelaide's engine room has often been described as one-dimensional and vanilla with a number of similar, one-paced players.

Unless Rankine is bursting through the middle, it's hard to pick who else might break open a game.

Jake Soligo looks to be a long-term midfielder and is getting better each game, but the likes of Sam Berry, Lachlan Sholl, Chayce Jones and Harry Schoenberg haven't taken Adelaide's game to the next level.

Then there's questions on the ruck. Reilly O'Brien was dropped for the Tigers' clash with 28-year-old back-up Kieran Strachan given his sixth senior game.

The Crows will need to invest in another ruckman if they don't truly think O'Brien is the man for the job.

Adelaide now sits in 15th spot on the ladder, 10 points adrift of the top eight having played an extra game.

And it doesn't get much easier in the short term, with a clash against the ladder-leading Sydney Swans at Adelaide Oval to come next week.

Crows crisis: The big questions that need to be asked about Adelaide (2024)

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