Welcome to ESPN's AFL Debate Club, the column in which our writers and contributors will take one prompt from the week and put their opinion on the record. The kicker? No opinion is immune from criticism!
This week, Rohan Connolly and Jake Michaels look at which coach deserves to be under the most pressure right now.
Which AFL coach should be under the most pressure right now?
Rohan Connolly: There's some interesting contenders for this unwanted mantle with Ken Hinkley having seen off the blowtorch for now via Port Adelaide's five wins in a row.
It's Michael Voss at Carlton probably fending off the most agitated fan base currently. But to me, that has more to do with Carlton people overestimating capabilities than Voss's shortcomings. Ditto Stuart Dew at Gold Coast, as I'm not sure the Suns' stocks of young talent are nearly as deep as some maintain.
Which is why I'd probably go with Hardwick as my nomination, I stress, however, with no slight on his coaching abilities. It's just that, unlike some, I think Richmond still does have the necessary cattle to be giving the top four a nudge, let alone not be stuck in 15th spot with just two-and-a-half wins.
Even allowing for a shocking run with injuries, the Tigers have enough talent at their disposal not to be losing to the likes of Gold Coast and to have won those 50-50 games they've been losing.
The famed Richmond system and structure isn't nearly as reliable as it was. And there's been issues for a while now with players' lack of discipline, both conceding free kicks and unnecessary 50-metre penalties.
Ultimately, that has to come back to the coach. And Hardwick is now the AFL's longest-serving mentor at the one club, this his 14th season in charge at Punt Road, with a current contract due to expire at the end of next year.
If Richmond was to decide this generation's tilt at more flag success is at an end, that would seem a logical time to move on its triple premiership coach. I'm not convinced it's all over for the Tigers just yet, but those sort of circumstances I think add up to more pressure on Hardwick than his contemporaries.
Jake Michaels: Let's see. Who's on the shortlist? There's Michael Voss, who looks lost at the Blues. Adam Simpson, who just can't win a game. Ken Hinkley, who is always one loss away from having the blowtorch turned up. Even successful veterans Damien Hardwick and John Longmire now have to be in consideration.
But none of those five are my pick. In my mind, the most under pressure coach at this very moment simply has to be Stuart Dew.
I know the Suns are off Broadway, so to speak, but it's baffling how Dew continues to evade criticism. Literally no other coach in the sport's history has been given this much runway, and I can prove it!
There have been 88 coaches in VFL/AFL history tally 100 or more games at the helm of a club. Who has the worst winning percentage of those? Dew at 29.02%.
I get that he hasn't had an abundance of talent to work with since he stepped into the role back in 2018, but that argument is starting to wear thin. The midfield quartet of Jarrod Witts, Touk Miller, Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell might be the best in the competition, complementing the key position talent of Ben King, Jack Lukosius, Sam Collins and Charlie Ballard. There's more than enough to work with.
After Gold Coast's ordinary 1-4 start to the season I raised the question of when the blame will fall on him. They've steadied, somewhat, to be 3-5 -- and could easily be 4-4 if not for a late Darcy Macpherson miss against the Demons -- but this shouldn't be the bar.
This football club is yet to play a final in its 13-year existence and it's never had a season with a winning record. At some point the Suns needs to shake things up significantly, avoid the tiresome rinse and repeat approach and take a step forward, out of football mediocrity.