There's no getting around the fact that 2018 was an unmitigated disaster for blue and gold fans.
Things unravelled pretty quickly, with the club's finals hopes all but gone by the time they nabbed their first win of the season in round seven.
There are no shortage of stats that underscore problem areas for the 2018 team but there are also a few little gemstones hidden in the rough that suggest with a couple of astute recruitments, a new season and a new attitude, a significant turnaround isn't beyond the realms of possibility for a club that finished top-four just one year prior.
Parramatta seemed to struggle more than most clubs to adapt to the early-season rules crackdown, repeatedly falling foul of the more stringent new interpretations of offside and ruck policing.
Weighty penalty counts against them, poor handling and an inability to find repeat sets meant they ended up on the wrong end of the possession count more often than not, sapping their energy through tackles and leaving little gas for a sputtering attack to click into gear as halves Mitch Moses and Corey Norman seemed to get in each others' way more than complement each others' games.
Parramatta Eels: 2018 by the numbers
A calamitous injury and disciplinary toll didn't help either. Tony Williams, Beau Scott, Jarryd Hayne, Kenny Edwards, Manu Ma'u, Kaysa Pritchard and Greg Leleisiuao were among the top 30 players absent for far too much of the season, along with medium-term injuries for key men Nathan Brown and Clint Gutherson.
Home & Away record
6-6 at home, 0-12 away
The Eels' home record actually finished up not too bad – it was a bit below what the top eight sides produced at home but 50% isn't disastrous. What is disastrous is the club's failure to win a single away game all season. That 0-12 record mirrors their away record last time the club picked up the wooden spoon in 2013, with the 2016 Knights the last team to finish with the same winless road record.
Leading try scorers
Despite missing a third of the season through injury, Jarryd Hayne's late-season form spike helped him to 10 tries for the season – the only Eels to hit double digits. Winger George Jennings (eight) had his best season after a few years wrecked by injury and Bevan French crossed seven times.
Hard-working lock Nathan Brown's 54.3 post-contact metres per game was a club high, but not quite enough to see him into the NRL top 10. Tim Mannah was the best on a per-carry basis with 3.77 post-contact metres per hit-up but that too falls outside the NRL top 10. Team-wise the Eels finished 12th for post-contact metres made with 481 per game and were fourth-worst in terms of conceding them at 510 per match.
Try scoring – attacking channels
The Eels' most profitable channel for generating tries was the centre-left area, with 29% of their season's 66 four-pointers originating there, leading to 28 of their 66 season tries scored on the left wing or left channel. Their biggest scoring channel was right wing, with 17, though just a further six were scored in the right centre channel. All up, 66 tries was the third-worst tally in 2018.
Tries conceded – defending channels
The same left channel that produced almost one third of the Eels' tries scored was also responsible for letting in the same proportion, with 29% of try-causes coming on the centre-left – well up on the NRL average of 22%. The other four channels (left flank, right flank, centre, and centre-right) were all consequently slightly down on NRL average.
Tries conceded from penalties
This was a real costly department for the Eels, who were level with the Titans when it comes to conceding the most tries from penalties. Both clubs let in 42 tries in the sets following a penalty conceded, even though the Eels were only the eighth-most penalised team with 200. Mitch Moses (20), Tim Mannah and Brad Takairangi (both 15) were the club's most penalised players.
Metres gained from offloads
Parramatta placed 13th for total metres gained from offloads in 2018. Their 214 total offloads ranked 13th while their 8.5 average metres gained from the carry following an offload was also in the bottom half of the competition. Their top offloader was Brad Takairangi with 38; Clint Gutherson and Manu Ma'u were next with 17 apiece.
The Eels managed just under a 70% success rate converting tries, plus nine of 10 penalty goals kicked for an overall average of 72.4%, placing them second-last in the NRL. Back-up kicker Clint Gutherson kicked under 60% in 2018 while regular kicker Mitch Moses managed 78%. Their tally of 55 two-pointers was five behind Newcastle's 60 goals which was the second lowest.
An inability to control possession hurt the Eels right through the season. The extra defence they were forced to do sapped them in attack and compounded other issues. The blue and golds won the possession count just seven times in 24 games, winning four of those (their other two wins they earned 49% possession). The Eels were eventually forced into making 8509 tackles, more than any team other than Wests Tigers (8622).
As mentioned at the top, the Eels had a horror injury toll with season-ending injuries to co-captain Beau Scott plus Tony Williams, who had performed strongly early in the season. Kenny Edwards was cut for disciplinary reasons and there were far too many short and medium term injuries. The club ended up using 31 players – the most of any club. Five other clubs used 29, the second-biggest tally, but most of them had players involved in Origin. The Raiders and Dragons used just 25 each.