Pass or fail: How every club fared in season 2022

Dogs disappoint, but they're 'still in a sweet spot' (1:55)

They might have been first knocked out of the finals in 2022, but there's enough to suggest the Bulldogs will bounce back strongly next season says Rohan Connolly. (1:55)

Before season 2022 kicked off, ESPN's football writers put their heads together to come up with every AFL club's pass marks -- their make-or-breaks -- for the upcoming year. When each club's season comes to an end, we'll update this story to determine whether your team has passed or failed in 2022.


2022 pass mark: Play the season out with NO drama

Result: FAIL

The Crows won eight games and finished the season in 14th place but further details of the infamous pre-season camp of 2018 have emerged, shining the club in an awful light. Several players, including Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins, spoke out on what they were subjected to, and with each story, you can only shake your head more.

On the field, things have been better. The emergence of Ben Keays has been a highlight, while Rory Laird made a late case for an All-Australian blazer. Youngsters, such as Jake Soligo, Harry Schoenberg and Darcy Fogarty should have Crows fans excited going into next season.


2022 pass mark: Win multiple finals

Result: PASS

This is an easy one to judge, but somehow, weirdly, it's also a hard one to judge, if you know what we mean... The Lions certainly won multiple finals, and they had to do so against the past two AFL premiers Melbourne and Richmond to take their finals record to 3-5 after winning just once from six attempts under Chris Fagan since 2019, but gee-whiz that preliminary final loss against Geelong was every bit a disgrace.

It's a far cry from the two 'straight-sets' exits they'd copped in the 2019 and 2021 seasons and for that there should be reason for optimism that this finals campaign was a step in the right direction, but the same problems still exist for this high-scoring, often dire-defending group that does need to improve in order to take the next step.


2022 pass mark: Win 11 games or make the top eight

Result: PASS-ISH

The Blues achieved half of what we had as their break even, but the way in which they coughed up a top eight spot leaves a sour taste in the mouth. With a month to play, the Carlton looked certain to play in September, but a shock loss to the Crows, followed by heartbreaking losses to the Demons and Magpies saw them fall out of the top eight.

Still, it was a promising first year for new coach Michael Voss, who began the season 8-2 and, at times, produced a side which played some of the most exciting footy in the competition. It was a nice year individually, too. Charlie Curnow won the Coleman Medal and skipper Patrick Cripps is sure to feature prominently on Brownlow night.


2022 pass mark: Nick Daicos lives up to the hype


Boy oh boy did he ever! Is it the best debut season we've ever seen from a teenager? It just might be, Nick Daicos one of the many reasons Collingwood were able to make an unlikely surge up the ladder in 2022. The Magpie prodigy had an exceptional year that probably exceeded everyone's, including our, expectations regardless of the lavish hype that surrounded his entry to the league, averaging 25.8 disposals (dropping below 20 just twice), 5.3 intercepts, 408.2 metres gained and 4.5 score involvements per game.

Daicos showed Pendlebury-like composure beyond his years and with another preseason under his belt, you can't help but think the crafty game-breaker has all the tools to become one of the AFL's most damaging goal-kicking midfielders as he evolves.


2022 pass mark: Win a final

Result: FAIL

Wow. Revisiting this one at season's end can only produce a wry smile. The Bombers were smashed in their season-opener and never looked a side capable of playing finals, let alone winning one. The kids haven't developed as expected, while off the field it's been a soap opera of drama, culminating in coach Ben Rutten being unceremoniously axed on the final day of the season.

The only hope for Essendon is that the entire club overhaul which it looks set to go through can somehow spark something in 2023.


2022 pass mark: Become the best of the west

Result: PASS

Given how poor West Coast's season was, this feels like a very low bar, but few could honestly have predicted the drastic rate of improvement from the Dockers. Justin Longmuir made a serious case for coach of the year, taking a team that won 7, then 10 games, to 16 and a semifinal.

Yes, David Mundy is departing, but with the likes of Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong in the midfield the future looks bright over in the west and there's no doubt which Perth-based club is king right now.


2022 pass mark: Win the premiership

Result: TBA

Gold Coast

2022 pass mark: Re-sign Jack Lukosius, Ben King, and Izak Rankine

Result: FAIL

It might seem a little tough, but as things stand, Izak Rankine is headed for the exit, after requesting a move to the Crows. The Suns have been able to lock up two of the trio, however. Jack Lukosius and Ben King have both inkied extensions to remain on the Gold Coast.

Overall, it's been a solid year for the Suns. Stewart Dew's side won 10 games, finished with a percentage above 100 for the first time in club history and loomed as a genuine final chance until late in the season.


2022 pass mark: Make finals

Result: FAIL

It's a big F for the Giants in season 2022, and one could argue their worst in club history. GWS started the season 2-7, sacked long-time coach Leon Cameron shortly after and ultimately finished the year 16th, only ahead of the appalling Eagles and Kangaroos. Like the Bombers, the Giants never looked like featuring in September.

There's serious talk that some of the club's big name players could be seeking a move to Melbourne in the off-season, which would only cap off a really difficult year for the orange team. Incoming coach Adam Kingsley has his work cut out for him in order to steady the ship in coming weeks ahead of the trade and free agency periods.


2022 pass mark: Find and stick to Sam Mitchell's gameplan

Result: PASS

So much was made of Sam Mitchell replacing Alastair Clarkson at the Hawks but hats off to him. Mitchell had the Hawks playing good footy, particularly early in the season. Mitchell actually won more games (8) in his first season then Clarkson won in his last (7). His side was keen to move the ball quickly; the Hawks played on from a mark the second most of any side, and were the third best side at transitioning from defensive 50 to forward 50 across the season. They also kicked long the second most often of any side.

It's obvious the talent just isn't quite there at the moment, but it will come. Jai Newcombe looks to be a star inside midfielder, while Dylan Moore has also been impressive in the guts. If a few others can make the leap in 2023, then the Hawks would have to be a sneaky finals chance.


2022 pass mark: Make the prelims

Result: FAIL

Considering where the Demons were after 10 rounds (10-0 and had barely looked like losing), failing to make preliminary final weekend looks like a fail of epic proportions. From Round 11 onwards, Melbourne went 6-8, including a straight sets finals exit.

We're by no means saying this side can't bounce back in 2023 but we need to pump the breaks on all of this dynasty talk.

North Melbourne

2022 pass mark: Cut out the big winless streaks

Result: FAIL

A losing streak of 14 games spanning from the beginning of April until mid-July sums up North Melbourne's season. Once again, they just haven't been competitive enough, summed up by 14 losses of over 46 points, and just two wins on the season.

Change is desperately needed and the appointment of Alastair Clarkson as coach for 2023 is a start. Perhaps Jack Ziebell's time as captain has also run its course and it's time for some fresh leadership to emerge.

Port Adelaide

2022 pass mark: Snap their prelim final hoodoo

Result: FAIL

Many footy pundits (some even at ESPN) tipped Port Adelaide to go all the way in 2022, so with that said, has Ken Hinkley's side been the biggest disappointment of the season? You felt Port were always chasing after starting off 0-5 and although they hit their groove in the middle of the year, they ultimately finished two wins off eighth place with just 10 wins.

The drop off from minor premiers to 11th on the ladder at season's end is stark but there's still no reason to panic. The emergence of Connor Rozee in the midfield has been a massive win, as has Todd Marshall as a key forward. Marquee signing Jeremy Finlayson and Zak Butters should great signs later in the year, while Ollie Wines slowly returned to his prolific best. With an easier draw next year, we wouldn't be surprised to see them back in the mix.


2022 pass mark: Return to September action

Result: Pass

It didn't look too likely at times -- and if you look at Champion Data's 'expected scores' ladder, they should have finish comfortably inside the top four given all the close matches they lost (or drew) in season 2022 -- but the Tigers made it into September action and nearly pulled off a huge heist at the Gabba against the Lions. In fact, going by the much-loved old wives tale of 'first to 100 points wins', or if Tom Lynch had celebrated his late banana which was astonishingly awarded one behind by the ARC, Richmond should really still be alive in season 2022!

As for next year, things may get tougher for the Tigers. They're losing some high-quality players, like Shane Edwards and Kane Lambert, while there's speculation about Dustin Martin's future at Tigerland. So too, is there intrigue about the soft tissue injury Dion Prestia picked up in the final against Brisbane - yet another hamstring.

St Kilda

2022 pass mark: Win more than 11 games

Result: FAIL

Winning 11 games isn't more than 11 games, so this one is a fail. The Saints finished the year in 10th place with a percentage of just under 100. Such an average finish feels right for what was an average team for the vast majority of the year. At times they played exciting footy, and looked likely to at the very least play finals, but like Carlton, had a few too many disappointing performances.

With names like Paddy Ryder and Dan Hannebery retiring, there is some serious experience and know-how leaving the club, so Brett Ratten should look to have an active trade and draft perios to try and find an edge heading into 2023.


2022 pass mark: Win a final

Result: TBA

West Coast

2022 pass mark: Avoid a free fall

Result: FAIL

The Eagles were appalling in 2022. Just two wins and a final percentage of 59.8 almost doesn't highlight how bad this club was at various points of the year. On nine occasions West Coast lost by more than 52 points, they also conceded 100+ points in 14 outings.

Bidding farewell to Josh Kennedy leaves a gaping hole in the forward line, while several other veterans have to be close to hanging up the boots, too. There's not a huge amount to get excited about right now if you're an Eagles supporter, except maybe the prospect of Oscar Allen making a return, and Tom Barrass being in the hunt for an All-Australian blazer.

Western Bulldogs

2022 pass mark: Finish in the top four, finally...

Result: FAIL

If the Dogs had continued on with their 41-point lead over the Dockers in Perth in their elimination final, we might be judging this season one the dust and chips had settled - after all, win a semi and make the prelims, and you're a 'top four' team. But ultimately the Bulldogs' season was never truly in their own hands. Even to make finals the Dogs had to walk off the ground after their final game and turn on the TV to see if Carlton could do them a big favour by losing in their final round. They did, so the Dogs claimed the last spot in the eight, but at the end of the day it's a mid-table finish for Luke Beveridge's men.

There are positives, however. Seeing improvement from Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has been notable, as has the inclusion of Sam Darcy late in the season, while Toby McLean made a successful return to the fold as well. They're a few pieces short, the Bulldogs, but they'll be confident of competing again next season.