Each week, ESPN.com.au's Jake Michaels looks at six talking points from the AFL world.
This week's Six Points feature the dire Eagles and the new low they've struck, whether Damien Hardwick's legacy has been tarnished or enhanced by his resignation and why Nick Daicos should have been suspended for punching Blake Acres.
1. West Coast is absolutely embarrassing and the worst non-expansion team we've seen since 2000
When the Fitzroy comparisons start being rolled out, you know a team isn't just struggling but in the discussion for worst in league history.
Call it recency bias if you like but this iteration of West Coast is now in the sort of company usually reserved for expansion clubs. The Eagles hit an all-time low last weekend, becoming the first team ever to lose by 100+ points to the side sitting 18th on the ladder.
The hapless performance against the Hawks in Tasmania saw them record their third-lowest score (26) and concede the fifth biggest margin (116) in club history. In fact, four of West Coast's 10 biggest losses have occurred since the start of last season, highlighting the demise of this side since its 2018 premiership triumph.
The Eagles sit dead last after 10 weeks with a ledger of one win, nine losses and a horror percentage of 55.4. This time last year they were also 1-9, with an even worse percentage of 51.5. They are two of the worst six 10-game starts to a season seen by any club since 2000, along with the expansion sides of Gold Coast and GWS and an awful Melbourne outfit.
They have won just three of their last 32 games. Again, only the Suns and Giants have had a worse 32-game stretch since 2000, and both occurrences were within the club's first two seasons in the league.
Little has changed from last year to now. Here's a list of categories Adam Simpson's side ranks last in: points for, points against, points per inside 50, clearance differential, inside 50 differential, contested possession differential, uncontested possession differential, disposals ... shall I go on?
Can injuries be blamed for the recent run of dire performance? Sure. It has certainly played a part.
According to Champion Data, the Eagles have already lost 321 games this year from their best 22 players (according to ranking points). That's the most ever recorded through 10 rounds of a season, beating out their horror injury run from last year. But even without the injuries, West Coast is the only club not to have even one player ranked 'elite' by Champion Data in 2023.
The worst part? Things are likely to get far uglier before they improve.
2. Could Damien Hardwick's resignation timing tarnish or enhance his legacy?
Why now? That's the question I asked myself when news broke that Damien Hardwick was calling time on his 13-year coaching tenure at the Tigers.
Hardwick's club transformation from perennial underachievers to three premierships in the span of four years -- a genuine dynasty -- guarantees he will forever be regarded as an icon of not just the Richmond Football Club, but the AFL. He changed the way the modern day game is played and leaves behind a legacy very few can, and will ever match.
But again, why now? Why step away from the club at this exact moment?
Some will view Hardwick's decision to pull the pin as the Tigers sit 3-1-6 as the smart option. Departing well before the club gets close to the 'cliff' ensures he will be remembered in a positive light and celebrated for his achievements, as opposed to essentially being forced out for poor performance.
Talkback radio was flooded with rightful praise for Hardwick. The Richmond faithful spoke candidly about how his influence on the Tigers improved their livelihood and brought back their love of football.
But on the other hand, is there an argument to be made his timing is poor?
For the first time in seven years Richmond appears to be on a downward trajectory. They're best players are past their prime, the youngsters have plenty of question marks surrounding them and the club has very few draft picks at its disposal. I can certainly understand why some would argue Hardwick's resignation -- citing burn out and fatigue -- isn't a great look. I might be speculating, but that didn't seem to be the case when his side was in contention for premierships.
By no means am I saying he isn't allowed to experience burn out. In fact, the mental strain and pressure placed on coaches in this day and age is something many of us continue to underestimate. What I am saying is that it would be a little hypocritical to jump back into the coaching hot seat in 2024, as is already being rumoured and speculated.
If it is burn out, Dimma, take some proper time away from the cut and thrust of the game.
3. Nick Daicos should 100% have been suspended -- and rubbed out of Brownlow Medal contention -- for punching Blake Acres
The saddest part of the Nick Daicos gut punch on Blake Acres is that we all knew how it would play out.
A media firestorm was guaranteed to follow, with widespread speculation the 19-year-old could be suspended for a week. There would be debate, conjecture, precedent citing and many arguing his clean record should count for something in determining his sanction.
The only thing more obvious about this whole situation was that Daicos would, inevitably, escape punishment. Of course, it came as little surprise the MRO issued a measly $3,000 fine on Monday afternoon, freeing him to face the Kangaroos in Round 12.
What happened to the AFL wanting to stamp out unnecessary macho aggression and cowardly gut punching? A few years ago the league made an example of Cats star Tom Hawkins, suspending him for jumper punching Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch. That was supposed to set a precedent.
But these actions have seemingly crept back into the game; the worst part being that offenders are not receiving suspensions. Daicos wasn't the only one to benefit from the recent leniency - Jye Caldwell was also offered a fine for a similar hit on Daicos himself during the Bombers-Magpies' Anzac Day clash.
This nonsense must be stamped out once and for all.
4. Friday night's flop of a game between Sydney and Carlton spells season over for the loser
If we still used calendars in 2023, the Round 11 opener between Carlton and Sydney would have been circled in mine back in January. Two teams with enormous expectation -- the Swans coming off a Grand Final appearance last year, while the Blues heartbreakingly missed out on September but looking destined to take a leap -- doing battle on a Friday night at the SCG. What's not to love?
But 10 weeks in and these two clubs have, without question, been the two great disappointments of 2023. Okay, you can throw the Tigers in that conversation as well. Both Sydney and Carlton sit outside the top eight, have percentages under 100 and look so far off the genuine contenders it's not funny.
The Swans have some injury excuses but the bulk of the next generation hasn't advanced as expected. Meanwhile, the Blues continue to persist with a stagnant, uncertain game-style which just isn't conducive to winning football in 2023, or any era, for that matter.
It may seem as if I'm jumping the gun a tad early, but it's season over for the loser of this game. Plain and simple.
The top six has really started to separate itself from the chasing pack. The Demons, Saints and Bulldogs currently occupy ladder positions four to six, they each have 28 points and all start as significant favourites in Round 11. If they all win, the loser of Sydney-Carlton will find themselves four games outside the top six before we've even reached the byes.
Since 2000, 120 teams have had four or fewer wins after 11 games. How many of them have played finals? Just six. How many finished top six? Two. Yep, game over.
I'm not buying that if one, or even both of them, sneak into September they can be dangerous. If you're not top four or hosting an elimination final you're not winning it all, I'm not entertaining the idea that either of these two can do a Bulldogs of 2016.
5. Luke Breust is a no doubt Hall of Famer and maybe the most uncelebrated player of the modern era
I've never met a footy fan who had anything even remotely nasty to say about Luke Breust. Yet whenever I attempt to make the case he's one of the game's greatest small forwards and should be a clear-cut, no doubt member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame, all of a sudden he's not so popular.
The crafty Hawk is just four goals shy of reaching the 500-goal club, and it very much could happen this weekend against the Saints at Marvel Stadium. Breust would become just the 63rd player in V/AFL history to hit the milestone, yet of everyone in that illustrious group I feel he receives the fewest plaudits. Why is that? It's something I've long wondered, and I've got a theory.
Breust isn't your typical small forward. He's not blessed with electric pace. He's not flashy, nor is he someone likely to clunk a highlight-reel-worthy mark or kick the impossible goal. Think about it. For all of his and Hawthorn's success, how many Breust moments spring to mind? But what he has been is the ultimate professional, consistent footballer. Understated brilliance and efficiency. A player who is as intelligent and skilled as any small forward to have ever laced up a pair of boots.
So how does he compare to the other great small forwards of the modern era?
In my mind, and I reckon many would mostly agree, these are the best half dozen small forwards of the last two decades. Breust stacks up with all of them, and at 32, his career's not yet done.
I've often joked that if a Sherrin was placed in a random spot inside the 50m arc and you could chose any player to take a shot to save your life, I'd be picking Breust, hands down. It's no surprise he's the most accurate of the bunch, but over the last 20 years he also ranks equal fourth for tackles inside 50, fifth for groundball gets inside 50 and 10th for total disposals in the forward 50.
There aren't many triple premiership players, two-time All-Australians, and (soon to be) members of the 500 career goals club who are underappreciated. I'd argue there's just one.
6. The best brother duo in the AFL right now is...
Let's finish up with something fun for a change.
In 2023, we have 20 pairs of brothers on AFL lists. Not necessarily brothers that play on the same team, but just brothers who are in the league. That's quite a lot, right!?
The Daicos brothers have to be on top of the pile. Nick might be in just his second season but is already the favourite to scoop this year's Brownlow Medal. After 10 weeks, I have him leading my predictor. Meanwhile, Josh is one of the most in-form wingman in the competition, averaging 27 disposals per game in a team that's sitting on top of the ladder.
It's easy to forget about the Brayshaw boys, as they play on different teams, but this pair isn't far behind. Andrew has become a top midfielder in the competition over the last few years, while Angus continues to play a key role for one of the premiership fancies.
And what about the King boys? Could they soon take over top spot? I certainly wouldn't be surprised.