In a nutshell
The minor premiers were unstoppable in their first two finals games before being exposed by Richmond in the Grand Final. The Crows were way below their best and froze on the big stage when it mattered the most.
What we said in the pre-season
The majority of the AFL Media team had the Crows in the top eight, but not many tipped them to reach the Grand Final. Claiming the minor premiership was above pre-season expectations.
Matt Crouch took the leap from solid midfielder to elite ball-winner as he became an All Australian for the first time. Rory Laird was exceptional across half-back, ruckman Sam Jacobs won his individual battle most weeks, the Crows' attack was outstanding (apart from the Grand Final) and the defence was rarely beaten.
The Crows' forwards went missing in the Grand Final, with Taylor Walker, Josh Jenkins, Eddie Betts, Charlie Cameron, Tom Lynch and Andy Otten kicking three goals between them. Rory Sloane struggled to impact games when he was tagged. The Crows are also expected to lose out-of-contract defender Jake Lever, while forward Charlie Cameron could also request a trade to join the Brisbane Lions.
Overall rating: A-
Outstanding season, but disappointing to fall short at the final hurdle.
Don Pyke has done a great job in moulding this side into a tough, contested unit and helping to overcome adversity in his two seasons in charge. However, he has shown an unwillingness to adapt during games and make changes on the fly. Pyke is off contract at the end of 2018, but he is expected to be offered a two or three-year extension.
Coach Don Pyke led the Crows into their first Grand Final since 1998. Picture: AFL Photos
Skipper Taylor Walker was voted the AFLPA's best captain for the second year in a row. He was solid for most of the year, but had a day to forget in the Grand Final and was hardly sighted. Rory Sloane embraced the vice-captain role and provided Walker with great support.
Narrowly edges fellow All Australian Matt Crouch and vice-captain Rory Sloane. Laird's run and carry out of defence was integral in the Crows rebounding the ball quickly into attack.
Didn't play a single game in 2016, but the 22-year-old defender fought his way back into the side. 'The Bull' grabbed his chance with both hands and was rarely beaten one on one.
It was such a shame to see the high-flying forward miss the Grand Final. Showed glimpses of his brilliance and signed a three-year contract extension.
Signing Mitch McGovern to a new deal was a huge boost for the Crows. Picture: AFL Photos
Preliminary final: Adelaide 21.10 (136) def Geelong 10.15 (75) at Adelaide Oval
The Crows burst out of the blocks with a dominant first half to book their ticket to their first Grand Final since 1998. Charlie Cameron booted five goals.
Grand Final: Richmond 16.12 (108) to Adelaide 8.12 (60) at the MCG
After the Crows kicked the first two goals of the game, the Tigers booted 12 of the next 13 in a dominant performance. The Crows lost contested possessions by 29 in the second half and had no answer for a hungrier opposition.
The big questions
Can the Crows go one better next year?
Absolutely they can. They'll be shattered from falling just short. They will keep the majority of their list together, although they will likely lose Jake Lever and possibly Charlie Cameron. Their core players are in the primes of their careers and Matt and Brad Crouch and Rory Laird will only get better.
How hard will the Crows go in the trade period?
The Crows will get a deal done for defender Jake Lever with Melbourne or Collingwood. Charlie Cameron might go to the Brisbane Lions, while the Crows will have another crack at Carlton midfielder Bryce Gibbs. It'll be interesting to see if the bad blood from 12 months ago remains. The Crows have also been linked to Geelong forward Steven Motlop.
Can Tom Doedee establish himself in the Crows' best 22?
Doedee should benefit the most from Lever's departure. A first-round draft pick in 2015, Doedee is yet to make his debut, but showed encouraging signs in the SANFL in the second half of this year. Doedee will compete with Andy Otten and Alex Keath for the spot as the third tall defender.
Season in a song
Don't Stop Believing - Journey
Wide open: The Crows will be hungry to go one better next year.
Retirements: Scott Thompson
Unsigned free agents: Nil
How should they approach trade and draft period?
Go for it. Try to turn high draft picks for Lever and Cameron into players who can contribute right now. And get the Bryce Gibbs deal done, he's a perfect addition to this group.
Early call for 2018
The Crows will be desperate to make amends for their Grand Final defeat. The list ticks all the boxes and should contend for the next couple years.