Olson: Freeman made youthful mistakes against Saints
Quarterback Josh Freeman clearly didn't have his best game on Sunday against the Saints, but the reasons why were addressed today by offensive coordiantor Greg Olson, who said Freeman was uncharacteristically inaccurate with some of his throws against the blitz and didn't always make the right decisions when the pass rush came bearing down.
It's part of what any team with a young quarterback must expect.
"I don't think Josh was at his sharpest in terms of his accuracy on some of the all-out blitzes that we saw," Olson said. "We talked about giving (the receivers) an opportunity to make the catch. . . It happens very quickly. You have to identify the matchup for the all-out blitz and get to it. I just think it’s still a learning process for him and, again, with an all-out blitz, that’s what it comes down to. It’s finding the matchup. Some matchups we won and some we didn’t recognize quickly enough where the matchup was to get (the receiver) the ball."
Like all teams, Olson said there are three ways to beat the blitz. You either check to what's considered a hot route, which means one of the receivers changes to a shorter, quicker route to allow the quarterback to get rid of the ball; a quarterback can adjust the protection to respond to the anticipated blitz; or you can use sight adjustments, which involves the receiver and quarterback reacting to the defense and changing the route based on what the defense presents.
Many of the problems on Sunday seemed to be on sight adjustments, with Freeman expecting receiver Mike Williams and others to run different routes than they actually ran. The Saints unleashed 11 all-out blitzes, and Freeman diagnosed each one, Olson said. It's what happened afterward that was the problem.
"He recognized all of them," Olson said. "He knew all of them. He took some shots yesterday that we felt, with (the Saints), when they called the all-out blitz, their corners were off (the receivers). Now, you need to get to your built-in hot (route) as opposed to trying to hit the home run ball. There were a couple of times where I looked at the film and I said, ‘Geez, just put the ball in play.’ It’s not a jumpball game. It’s a put-the-ball-in-play game.
"You’ve got to give a guy a chance to make a catch and do something with it. If it’s a situation where it is an all out blitz and you see the backs of the (jerseys), where a defensive back is trailing the wide receiver, now, that’s where you give the matchup to Mike Williams. But yesterday, they were off. To me, it’s a learning process for him and he’ll get better."
Adding to Freeman's issues, Olson said, was some imperfect technique. That probably led to his handful of inaccurate throws.
"For whatever reason, it just seems his rhythm was off," Olson said. "You look at his footwork, we could see it on film. His footwork was a little bit off, which then takes away from the rhythm of the passing game. But he knew the right calls at the line of scrimmage to get himself protected. For whatever reason, he was a little off rhythm."