2023 AFL Season Preview: Essendon Bombers

After the sacking of Ben Rutten, can Brad Scott lead the club back up the ladder after a rough 2022 season for the Bombers?

Recap of last season

Essendon could not have asked for a worse start last to the season, losing to Geelong by 11 goals in the opening round. It would only be the start of a very long season for the Bombers.

The Bombers had two wins at round 12, however, it was not just on the field that the club was struggling. Towards the final weeks of the season, the Essendon Football Club were pursuing other coaches to lead the club whilst current coach Ben Rutten was still at the Club.

The governance and organisational structure of the club were handled poorly by the club and a real kick to Ben Rutten who had been so loyal to the club. To add to this Andrew Thorburn resigned from the club only one day after he was appointed as the chief executive.

Rutton was sacked by the club towards the end of the season after only being the head coach for not even two full seasons. Former North Melbourne coach Brad Scott took over the role during the offseason after he too was sacked by the Kangaroos a few seasons prior.

How can they improve

The Bombers have a lot to improve on from their players, coaches and board. The board needs to be backing their coaches and the decisions that they are making are benefiting their club.

Brad Scott's addition to the club will make him the third Bomber to coach the club within the last four seasons. The Bombers need a proper review of the structuring of the club to be successful and not jeopardise their club.

How can players perform when constant changes are happening in front of them, and a new environment to which they have to adapt to? The Essendon Football Club needs to back Brad Scott for the next few seasons to come because it is fairly certain that the Bombers could slide even further on the ladder.

List changes

Ins: Will Setterfield (Carlton), Sam Weiderman (Melbourne), Elijah Tsatas (pick 5), Lewis Hayes (pick 25), Alwyn Davey jnr (pick 45), Jayden Davey (pick 54), Rhett Montgomerie (rookie), Anthony Munkara (rookie)

Outs: Aaron Francis (Sydney), Cody Brand (delisted), Tom Cutler (delisted), Josh Eyre (delisted), Brayden Ham (delisted), Tom Hird (delisted), Garrett McDonagh (delisted), Alec Waterman (delisted), Michael Hurley (retired), Devon Smith (retired)

Biggest strength

One of the fewest strengths the Bombers have is the amount of quality young players at the club. The Bombers have had four top-ten picks within the last three draft periods, which is crucial for the club moving forward in the next few seasons.

It comes with the players who the Bombers too picked up during the off-season such as Sam Weideman, Will Setterfield, and the icon Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti coming out of retirement.

Biggest weakness

With the club under a new coach, it seems as though the club still has not moved forward since last season. In Essendon's practice match against St Kilda, the bombers went down by 35 points after they scored a shocking 3.14 (32) which is appalling.

Peter Wright and Nic Martin combining for 1.7 (13) are atrocious, especially when the Saints kicked 10.7 (67) when the Bombers blamed the wind for the efficiency.

Apart from Essendon's practice match thumping, injuries have not been nice to the Bombers ahead of the opening round. Former skipper Dyson Heppell, Jake Stringer, Jye Caldwell, and young gun Elijah Tsatas are all injured which is a blow for the club.

Rising star

Harrison Jones was on the sideline for a few times last season due to a fractured foot and an ankle injury. Jones played 16 matches in 2021 and was only limited to 10 last season due to injuries.

Having the time off-season to get his body fit for the season, Jones looks to step up his game and his goal-kicking this season as a tall key forward.

Having himself in the Bombers forward line along with Weiderman and Wright, their opponents should be scared having three great key forwards to worry about.


Unfortunately, the Bombers look to have another rough season ahead of them. With a new coach, the club is on the cusp of a rebuild, and is not expected to make a statement to the competition this season.

Although the Bombers look to place bottom four this season, it is nothing for fans to be upset about with rebuilding happening to every club. The main focus for the Bombers will be to develop their younger players and give them some game time to build their confidence.

Ladder position: 15th