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The change in Squizzy

Michael Whiting, AFL.com.au  July 7, 2017 8:52 AM

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Lewis Taylor has taken two bounces, sidestepped a would-be tackler, and is streaming towards goal just 40m out.

He is on a slight angle but has every right to kick for goal.

Rather, the diminutive Brisbane Lion looks a little lower and spots teammate Tom Cutler on his own just 15m from goal. Cutler does the rest.

If one play summed up Taylor's dramatic improvement in 2017, it was this one against Essendon on Sunday.

And it's far from an isolated incident.

Taylor followed up his 2014 Rising Star victory with two inconsistent seasons, but playing with a clearer head and more license to use his skills, has blossomed again this year.

"I'm just a bit more consistent," Taylor said.

"I want to try and hurt the opposition as much as I can when I have the ball.

"I'm into my fourth year now and the older you get, the more you see in the game … the easier it's going to get.

"The game is slowing down, which is good."

Numbers alone tell a story. 

With 13 goal assists – three against the Bombers – Taylor is ranked 10th in the competition.

He is not only playing unselfish football, but has the vision to match.

He is now averaging 302m gained a game, up from 184m last year.

Playing primarily as a half-forward, the 22-year-old is also up in disposals (19 from 15), contested possessions (5.5 from four), tackles (three from two) and has still managed to kick 12 goals through 14 games.

He is now playing on instinct, something coach Chris Fagan has encouraged since his first day in the job.

In previous years it wasn't unusual to see Taylor running in circles to avoid tackles, chipping the ball backwards, and generally being unsure of himself.

Now, as his forward line coach Jed Adcock explains, that's changed.

"Our game is simplified," Adcock said.

"We play a natural brand of footy that allows players to put their own mark on the way we play, and I think that suits him.

"Kids get drafted on backing themselves in and using their instincts ... we're trying to bring that out of them.

"At the same time they need to play to a gameplan of course, and Lewy's found that balance probably better than most.

"It's just keeping the gameplan simple. We won't change it. It's seeing what's in front of you and taking the option that's right."

Taylor said Fagan's implementation of more decision-making drills had also helped – he's now taking the easy option, and doing it quickly.

"From day one this pre-season we felt like we were improving," he said.

"The positivity of the coach and his staff has been big in that. 

"You can see we're on the right track and there's a fair few stats to back that up. 

"You have to put the work in and when we keep gelling and improving, we'll win more than we lose."