clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

49ers coaching staff: Part 2 of a look at QB coach Steve Logan's passing philosophy

New, comments

In part 2 of this 2 part series, we look at Coach Steve Logan’s play action and sprint out philosophy as outlined in his Coaches Choice DVD. For a look at his 3, 5, and 7-step game strategies check out part 1.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In his second of two Coaches Choice DVDs, Steve Logan breaks down his play action and sprint out passing games. Rather than focus on specific coaching points, or installs, Coach Logan stays relatively high level and talks more about the philosophy behind why each package exists. He also delves into a few technical quirks of each package.

Play Action: Punch and Counter-Punch

As if Logan was reading a page from Jim Harbaugh’s 2011 playbook the coach begins the play action section with this little nugget: "The best way to throw the football is with play action."

At East Carolina, Logan ran a one-back offense with the zone dive as his base running play. If you watched any Seattle Seahawks or Houston Texans games this year, you’re familiar with the zone dive as a base play.

Much like Seattle, Logan likes to play action off this play and let the offensive line come off the line of scrimmage with a regular zone step (the initial step the line takes in the direction of the running play). Logan then likes his QB to settle, show the football for a good fake, then pull the ball out.

When it comes to showing the ball on a fake, Logan is resolute in ensuring this is done with the utmost technique. He believes most people do a sloppy job teaching the fake and that a good ball fake, paired with the appropriate line action, can manipulate the linebackers enough to successfully complete a pass. In fact, Logan says that at East Carolina University, they expected to complete 75% of their zone dive play action passes.

Logan ultimately advocates a set-up/counter mentality with your play action game. Whatever your base run, you’d better have a play-action pass off it or your play action will be ineffective.

Sprint Out: Moving Off the Spot

One of the first bits of news we heard about Coach Logan was his preference for mobile quarterbacks. While these DVDs were published in 2007, Logan talks about ECU as though he’s still the head coach there and often references his "10 years", leading me to believe the DVDs were recorded sometime around 2001. In other words, he’s preferred mobile quarterbacks for a long time.

His sprint out packages are all about getting the quarterback off of a traditional spot to help out the offensive line, a theme he hits often. In fact he plainly states that you "can’t expect your offensive line to hold up all game." 49ers fans should be familiar with the sprint out, as the basic concept is what allowed Joe Montana to find Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone on The Catch.

On this point he offers a couple coaching points. "We teach, on our sprint out, a seven step move. By ‘move’ I mean I would prefer not to throw the ball on the run." Logan coaches his quarterbacks to take seven "steps" to break contain, set your feet, and throw from a stable platform. Colin Kaepernick is incredibly adept at throwing on the run, especially to his left, so it remains to be seen how, or even if, Logan will attempt to change Kap’s mechanics.

While the sprint out (or Action plays as Bill Walsh would call them) was a common feature of the West Coast Offense, Logan takes a bit of a departure from traditional QB coaching points.

On Logan’s zone dive boot action plays he coaches his Quarterbacks to beat an unblocked defensive end by pump-faking, getting the DE to jump, then throw a sidearm pass around the DE’s torso. Or, alternatively, the QB can backpedal and throw a "fall away jump shot" to get the ball over the rushing end. There are a few cut ups from ECU showing his QB executing these kinds of throws.

Quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers make similar type of sidearm throws so I can see the logic in teaching his QB how to complete these passes. Logan stresses that if you teach and practice the skill your QB can be effective with these unorthodox throws, but I remain a little skeptical.

Coaching Points

Logan closes out the DVD with six coaching points every QB needs to be successful.

  1. Never take a sack.
  2. Throw against the blitz. Throw under pressure, and throw hot. It’s better to drill and master the exception before drilling the mundane.
  3. Teach the look-off. Even on half field reads, look off to the other side first on your first two steps. Logan gets a video of the quarterback’s helmet stripe to ensure that the QB is practicing the look-off.
  4. Make the quarterback coach the receivers. Your WRs shouldn’t be telling the QB how they’re going to run routes; the QB should tell the WR exactly how to run the route to maximize timing and accuracy.
  5. Get depth on your drops from under center. You need to separate from the war going on in the trenches.
  6. When you install a pass play, teach the QB and WRs that the coverage is man-to-man unless proven otherwise. Logan relies heavily on option routes. But if you run an option route and guess the coverage wrong you could try to sit in a zone’s soft spot and a man-to-man defender will sit on the throw.

Final Thoughts

Much of what Logan describes here are core tenants of the West Coast Offense. While his philosophies are not earth shattering, he has clear philosophies about offense and can communicate them well. Logan firmly believes your plays should build off each other and work in an integrated system. Logan promotes teaching the complex, the exception, first. Once you have that down, then you move on to the simple stuff. Logan also believes in purposeful offensive design. You shouldn’t throw a play in just because. Each play should have a purpose.