The Master Defense - A timeless system
Bob Troppmann is a veteran football coach and author of The Master Defense, a primer on how to play defensive football, presently available through the CompuSports Media Exchange . Recently, Bob sat down with CompuSports Network staff writer Jim Reese for an interview. Bob’s comments are both interesting and informative and it is easy to see why so many coaches hold him in high esteem.
CompuSports Network: Coach, it’s critically important to point out what the term, The Master Defense means, isn’t it?
Bob Troppmann: Yes, it's very important for a coach to know that The Master Defense is not a single defense, per se. Rather, it is a way of setting or adjusting to any defensive style of play. The Master Defense is a scheme, or system, that is flexible enough to cover all situations that may arise either during a game or in the course of a season. A complete understanding of the philosophy of the Master Defense is necessary before the intricacies of the defense itself can be learned.
CSN: So, it eliminates then the need to come up with a new defense every week, doesn’t it?
BT: That is precisely the beauty of it. The Master Defense is not a guessing game. There is a reason for each alignment and technique used. Initially, it is predicated on such factors as formations, field position, and offensive tendencies. It is then adjusted to real game time conditions such as down, distance, score, and time remaining,
CSN: Should the teaching of The Master Defense be done primarily in a classroom setting or can players effectively learn all of it on the practice field?
BT: Both “chalk talks” in the classroom and “on-field work” are necessary. Utilizing our “Flip Chart” session, included with the Electronic version of The Master Defense proved extremely beneficial during the classroom aspect of training. Combining usage of the “Flip Chart” with an accompanying Power Point presentation adds further to its effectiveness.
CSN: You teach your defensive linemen to remember the acronym TASK? What does that mean?
BT: The defensive linemen must learn the basic numbering system (Technique), where to line up (Alignment), how to line up (Stance), and what to look for (Key). Like any other defense, The Master Defense is designed so that once the ball is snapped, certain things should happen automatically. A player’s knowledge of TASK ensures that movement following the snap will happen quickly and be consistently correct.
CSN: With the simplicity of your The Master Defense, it appears that more of a team’s players will be on the same page in defending against an opponent. Has that been the case?
BT: Absolutely. Once the ball is snapped, as I’ve said, certain things should happen automatically with the defense working as a single unit, the movement of each player coordinated with those of his teammates. Every player will be in a strong tactical position and the perimiter of the field will be adequately covered from sideline to sideline and end-zone to end-zone.
CSN: NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh has said of your book- “Bob Troppmann has organized his The Master Defense to suit all levels of competition. In implementing this system, a coach will have a ‘complete package’." Did you feel Coach Walsh was talking to the total functionality of your defense in its ability to serve a team’s every defensive need?”
BT: Yes, I believe he was. He told me that he thought The Master Defense was a complete and thorough defensive system that was truly multi-dimensional and suitable for all levels of play.
CSN: Your concept of the use of colors and numbers to designate coverage and line play. Is that as easily learned in high school as it is in college?
BT: Absolutely. The use of colors and numbers in football to designate assignments goes way back. In fact, I wrote articles on those devices dating back to the 1960’s. It enables a coach to put the members of his team into defensive positions to give the players the advantage of precise alignment as well as the confidence to instantly react.
CSN: Pete Carroll, 2003 Coach of the Year from National Champion USC, was one of your players in high school. Has he had a chance to study The Master Defense?
BT: Yes, he has and he’s been very supportive. He told me he felt the book would serve as a tremendous resource for any football coach looking for creative and innovative ideas to teach fundamental defense.
CSN: Bob, what are the major differences you’ve seen over the years in the game since your book was first published?
BT: Obviously, football has become a much more wide-open game with formations having gone from three backs to two to one to a totally empty backfield. The Master Defense has remained consistently effective in facing all those offensive changes. Defensively, the game has gone from seven-man fronts to six and five man-fronts with three-deep secondary coverage to today’s four-man pro-style fronts and multiple secondary coverages.
CSN: You’ve commented in the past on the use of hands in offensive blocking. Could you expound on that for our readers?
BT: In my opinion, the biggest mistake the rules committee has made is allowing the use of hands in offensive blocking. I do not think this is good technique for high school or even college linemen to learn and use. Today’s pro linemen look like two sumo wrestlers playing patty cake.
CSN: How do you see the potential of The Master Defense coupling with computer software for scouting purposes?
BT: The “Flip Section” can be used as a valuable home teaching tool. It can be of invaluable assistance in setting the defense for a future opponent. One of its most valuable uses is attained during the actual game when coaches in the press box coordinate its use with the head coach on the sideline. The further use of computers will simplify and accelerate the decision-making process necessary for maximum efficiency in minimum time.
CSN: How quickly have your new assistant coaches taken to The Master Defense?
BT: The Master Defense is inventive and sometimes innovation can scare people. However, once they get to know that it is a plan, a scheme, something that can be built on, and that you can line-up in any defense possible, they become believers.
CSN: Bob, on behalf of the CompuSports Network, and the many coaches who have used some or all of the Master Defense in constructing their own Defensive system, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to talk with us.
The Master Defense was first introduced in the late 1960's by Bob Troppmann and published by Parker Publishing. A highly acclaimed and sought-after "out-of-print" publication, the Master Defense has returned to life in a new "electronic" edition. The Master Defense Electronic Edition includes a 100+ page "eBook" and an innovative electronic flip chart that illustrates the Defensive concepts presented in the book.
Click here to review a Sample Chapter from The Master Defense.
The Master Defense is a comprehensive defensive scheme that is suitable for use at any level of football - in total or in part. Through its system of numbering fronts and "coloring" coverages, the Master Defense makes it possible to present virtually any "look" to an offense without changing the basic concepts and terminology.
The flip chart is available either in a self-contained version that will run standalone on your Windows-based PC, or one that is accessible over the Internet by any type of computer. The electronic flip chart supports the presentation of the concepts of the Master Defense by making it possible for a coach to "flip" between Defenses and Offensive Formations and view supporting details of each.