The Birth of Football's Modern 4-3 Defense

The Birth of Football's Modern 4-3 Defense

Postby oldecapecod11 » Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:43 am

The Birth of Football's Modern 4-3 Defense: The Seven Seasons That Changed the NFL
Author: tjtroup
Started by james , Jun 02 2014 12:30 PM

13 replies to this topic

#1 james
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Location:San Antonio, Texas
Interests:Music(Iron Maiden & Heavy Metal), NY Giants, Otto Graham, Leo Nomellini, AAFC, Pro Football 1920's-1970's, collecting football cards, collecting and reading football books.
Posted 02 June 2014 - 12:30 PM
Found this on Amazon today. Coach Troup's new book is listed, due for a September release. I can't wait to get this book.
The Birth of Football's Modern 4-3 Defense: The Seven Seasons That Changed the NFL by T.J. Troup

#2 Reaser
Pro Bowler
PFRA Member-1,712 posts
Posted 02 June 2014 - 08:46 PM
Also can't wait. Cool that it got a mention and graphic on NFL Network tonight.

#3 james
PFRA Member
Posted 02 June 2014 - 09:53 PM
It got mentioned on the NFL Network? Thats awesome. This book by coach is going to be absolutely amazing. While I love the history of the game, this book will have the why behind the history on how the game changed/evolved. I believe coach,s book should be on everyones bookshelf who study the game and the why of the game, just my opinion.

#4 Veeshik_ya
Forum Visitors
Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:28 PM
Looks awesome.

#5 JohnR
PFRA Member-184 posts
Posted 01 September 2014 - 12:08 PM
I'd buy it for the illustrations alone.

#6 NWebster
Forum Visitors
Posted 06 September 2014 - 04:32 PM
Got it yesterday, too early to do a full review (I'm half way through 1955), but really like the player personnel evaluations. Really like the detailed break down of participation, particularly during this era where guy would play both ways, but not necessarily as 60 minute men, but for example - as coach highlights - Bednarik in 54 where coach points out that he started both ways early but then ended the season exclusively starting at center. Lots of those types of gems throughout this book.
And cool illustrations John!!

#7 MattMeuller
PFRA Member-2 posts
Posted 14 September 2014 - 11:36 AM
Received the book earlier this week and have been thoroughly enjoying it since. Best in-depth analysis of the pro football of the 1950's that I've seen. 84 chapters discussing the evolution of the modern 4-3 defense over 7 seasons. The book covers the 1953 through 1959 seasons with a chapter on each team for every season. Each chapter discusses coaching, personnel, what the stats tell, the game of significance and a summary. Months of film study went into this book and result is outstanding! Congratulations Coach Troup!

#8 JWL
Pro Bowler
PFRA Member-1,841 posts
Posted 16 September 2014 - 11:34 AM
JohnR, on 01 Sept 2014 - 10:08 AM, said:
I'd buy it for the illustrations alone.
The drawings are very nice.
To anyone who may be on the fence-
The book is very detailed and is excellent. Unless you are allergic to 1950s football, you should purchase it.

#9 JohnR
PFRA Member
Posted 16 September 2014 - 10:29 PM
Thanks JWL.
I'm not done w/ it yet, but I love the breakdown of each team. Like TJ's earlier 'This Day In Football', one is constantly surprised by little details/stats that find their way into the story line. I'm honored to have been asked to contribute to this.

#10 Eric Goska
Forum Visitors
Posted 19 September 2014 - 12:12 PM
Add me to the list of those recommending TJ's latest book with illustrations by John Richards.
TJ presents the clearest picture yet of football in the ‘50s, specifically 1953-1959. Superb insight (Coaching, Personnel, What the Stats Tell Us, Game of Significance, Summation) on every team over the course of those seven years. (Ron Jaworski could learn a thing or two about film study from Coach TJ!)
Here are a few nuggets:
In 1953, “(Babe) Parilli and (Tobin) Rote both used the spread formation in passing situations with either a lone back or an empty backfield.”
In 1956, the Packers employed a “creative 3-4 defense” when playing the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.
In 1958, “hard-charging, concussive-hitting rookie Ray Nitschke started at the beginning of the year at middle linebacker and also started at left linebacker, but this hustling young man of physical gifts was out of control and usually out of position.”
Game of Significance
Final game of the decade for the Pack. “Lombardi is going to test his team by asking them to run out the clock (final 8:30 of game). Fifteen well-mixed runs and pass plays later, Green Bay is on the 49er fifteen yard line as the gun sounds.” (Gee, you think GB might be on the verge of something?!?)
Excellent illustrations accompany the text. My favorite: Leo Nomellini (page 236) taking a short time out from what was a fascinating era of football.

#11 Reaser
PFRA Member
Posted 20 September 2014 - 02:36 AM
Agree with what's been said so far. A gold mine of information.
The writing is excellent, written in the language of football which is my preferred language.
More important than writing style is the information provided, and it's unmatched for this era. Every team from '53 through '59 is covered; the formations, schemes, personnel, and tendencies. Whether it was a bad team or that seasons champion, each team is covered with equal importance and given the same detailed treatment. The book doesn't just tell you that a team ran a 4-3, extremely important for this era it also explains the why.
The personnel section is the heart of the book, for me. Who played, who lined up where and how often, it's all covered. I also particularly like the detailed and complete breakdown of each teams coaching staff.
There's also a Joe Schmidt and the evolution of the 4-3 chapter that's a treat. Coach got it straight from the player on how Schmidt called the defensive alignment and what his keys and responsibilities were.
The book is a great read and expertly tells the story of each season, year-by-year through the seven seasons covered. If you're just interested in or just a fan of one team, you can even skip through and go team-by-team for those seven years which will give you great insight into the yearly evolution of that particular teams alignments, player personnel, as well as obviously covering what the team did or didn't accomplish on the field.
As educational and entertaining as the book was to read, as a book. The real treasure is in that it now becomes the go to reference book for the 50's, from now until I'm no longer interested in football (which will be when I expire.)

#12 Reaser
PFRA Member
Posted 20 September 2014 - 02:42 AM
JohnR, on 01 Sept 2014 - 10:08 AM, said:
I'd buy it for the illustrations alone.
Very nicely done, John.
McCormack - as a fan - is my favorite one. I'de love to make/get a copy of that to frame and put up.

#13 JohnMaxymuk
PFRA Member-72 posts
Posted 25 September 2014 - 03:18 PM
Allow me to pile on the praise for Coach's book. The amount of research and film study that went into producing this essential reference is evident on every page. This book is nutrient-rich and one to savor slowly and then to refer back to later.
I love the details coach supplies here (redskins using the nickel in 53; 49ers trying the 3-4 in 56) and am continually surprised by how much shifting between offense and defense some of the big names did to meet the needs of their team in a particular season (john henry johnson as a fierce db, stautner as an offensive lineman etc.). What a great decade for innovation in the game and it is defined here. While coach's focus was the development of the 4-3, he also traces the outline of the offensive evolution from full house t and slot t to pro set.
I hope coach does a sequel on the development of the 3-4 in the early 70s.

#14 cdwillis
96 posts
Posted 30 September 2014 - 04:51 PM
I concur with John. If you haven't checked out Coach TJ's newest book you should. Worth the read! j troup
"It was a different game when I played.
When a player made a good play, he didn't jump up and down.
Those kinds of plays were expected."
~ Arnie Weinmeister
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Re: The Birth of Football's Modern 4-3 Defense

Postby Veeshik_ya » Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:31 am

Got this book for Christmas and spent the last few days plowing through it. Rather than fall in line with the general backslapping tone of this forum where all PFRA members are awesome and can do no wrong, and all outsiders unworthy and suspect, I will approach this like any book review, the good, the bad, etc. and hope people appreciate the objective approach.

The Bad:

While the book's title promises to detail the evolution of the 4-3 defense over seven seasons, it only accomplishes that indirectly, i.e., you must piece it together yourself based on the factual information presented for each team, each year. The book would have been improved had the author added some broad-strokes, summarizing the development of the 4-3 within the context of other years and other teams.

The writing also could have been a little stronger. I understand this is a technical book. That said, good non-fiction should read like fiction even though the outcome is known. The writing was dry, mechanical, and repetitive, making the completion of the book seem like an endurance test at times.

The Joe Schmidt material, by the author's own admission, seems to be the centerpiece of the book. And it's good. But this section is so different than the rest it makes one wonder if the work as a whole was the result of finding something to sandwich around the Schmidt material and call it a book.

There's also a bit of name dropping and some dubious assertions. For example, though I don't doubt the author once had a conversation about defensive passer rating with Steve Sabol, he comes close to saying that he invented the statistic.

The Good:

As has already been stated by others, I can't think of any book about this era that's better. It will indeed live on as the 1950s Pro Football Bible.

The research that went into this work is palpable when reading it. Ten pages in, hell, make that five pages in, you know exactly how much work went into this effort. The amount of objective information and data is incredible. I can see myself reaching for this book again and again to confirm some of the finer points about these 1950s football teams. Too many times books brush on a major event or two when dealing with a subject, but the author doesn't miss anything here. All teams, all years are represented. It's a completist's dream.

It's also very well organized. The author has a methodology and sticks to it, carefully laying out the coaches, the key stats, the key games, and finishes by speculating on what the coaches' likely goals were for the following season. It is this organization and methodology, chapter in chapter out, that will see the book live on as a valuable reference tool of 1950s football. Despite mounds of information, a person could find what they're looking for within a few page flips.

The NFL teams should send a card of thanks to the author for documenting their 1950s history; I doubt their own historians know as much about the era. What's most impressive is that, many times, even great books are often an accumulation of information that appear in other published sources. Not this time. Most of the information here, particularly in terms of types of defenses played and team lineups, come straight from the author's head. Sure, he had to learn it somewhere, e.g., film study, etc., but show me where you're going to find it. We know where to find it now.

In summary, while not an entertaining page turner and failing to deliver some needed linear context that the title promises, it is a superior reference work that illustrates the author's command of the subject. I highly recommend it.
Last edited by Veeshik_ya on Wed Dec 31, 2014 9:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Birth of Football's Modern 4-3 Defense

Postby NWebster » Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:51 pm

I think the biggest challenge, wouldn't want to put words in his mouth - my thoughts only, with a book like this is deciding what to leave out. So much new information is shared that it raises more and more questions that can probably only be answered with a 2000 page version of this same book or with inside access to the coaches, all of whom have passed.

It's interesting, in doing my own research from the era, that while we decry the media coverage today it was typically actually much poorer back then. There were exceptions, the Packers were particularly well covered, though the Steelers were very very poorly covered. Honestly, if you want to understand the Cardinals or Steelers of the mid 50's I think you'd do better with this book than just about any other source I can think of including exhaustive review of all the contemporaneously published papers, etc.
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Re: The Birth of Football's Modern 4-3 Defense

Postby Veeshik_ya » Thu Jan 01, 2015 12:46 pm

NWebster wrote:I think the biggest challenge, wouldn't want to put words in his mouth - my thoughts only, with a book like this is deciding what to leave out. So much new information is shared that it raises more and more questions that can probably only be answered with a 2000 page version of this same book or with inside access to the coaches, all of whom have passed.

Good point about the amount of new information shared. The book is groundbreaking in that regard. But rather than wonder what information was left on the cutting room floor I wish the author would have included more of his own thoughts about why the statistics that he did include were significant or not significant relative to the development of the 4-3. Put another way, I don't care what Joe Blow's opinion is on a stock, but I might care about Warren Buffet's opinion. And I care what Troup's opinion is about defensive football.

I think of a PDF he wrote for the PFRA a few years back about the greatest defenses in NFL history. The teams, the stats, why the stats were significant, and why they were significant relative to the other teams' defensive performances. That paper should be required reading for all students of the NFL.

This is just nitpicking. The book is good. I hope the author isn't offended by the constructive feedback.
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