Key forward Peter Wright has dismissed any suggestion Essendon's midfielders are chasing stats but says the Bombers' on-ball brigade have taken responsibility for their patchy form amid a horror start to the AFL season.
All-Australian duo Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett have come under scrutiny after racking up high possession numbers without necessarily influencing games in Essendon's past two defeats, with the Bombers sitting 1-6.
St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt described the Bombers' midfield as "stat-happy" and selfish on Fox Footy but Wright rejected the suggestion his teammates were focused on racking up possessions.
"We definitely don't feel like they're stat chasing or anything like that," Wright told AAP.
"A lot of our method is around how we shape the ball out of a contest and I think at times we're just getting that balance wrong.
"Sometimes we need to take the ground and understand it's going to be a scrappy game at times, we're not trying to play perfect football.
"But definitely not stat-chasing, we're just trying to play our method. It's just finding the right balance."
Parish has averaged 34.3 disposals this season while Merrett has averaged 35.5, with 36 in his past two after missing three weeks with a syndesmosis injury.
"They definitely put their hand up and acknowledged that they're not playing their best football at different times throughout the year so far," Wright said.
"Really looking forward to seeing how they respond this week.
"They're obviously quality players and some of the best players in the competition and I'm looking forward to seeing how they go about it and playing some really strong, both-way football this week."
Former GWS star Dylan Shiel was dropped for the Bulldogs clash then was given a late reprieve as the substitute, gathering 11 touches, but Wright believed the message had still sunk in.
"Someone of Dyl's experience, he acknowledges his football and where it's at and things he was doing well and things that he wasn't doing as well as he would have liked and I don't think he was surprised at all by that," Wright said.
"He responded really well on the weekend and loved seeing him make an impact when he did come on the field."
Wright was confident the "frustrated" Bombers could yet turn things around and expected a response against Hawthorn.
He said the Bombers had "full faith" in their style of play but needed to iron out costly mistakes.
"We're not happy with where we are, we're not where we'd like to be," he said.
"But moving forward, if we can continue to put work in Monday to Friday and really work hard on our game, that'll come out on the weekend.
"We're definitely doing the work and I think the wheel will continue to start to turn for us moving forward."