TAMPA — QB Josh Freeman didn't have his best game Sunday against the Saints, but offensive coordinator Greg Olson didn't see the performance as a reason for concern.
Instead, Olson said Freeman was uncharacteristically inaccurate with some throws against the blitz and didn't always make the right decisions when the pass rush was bearing down.
It's the sort of thing a 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."
Olson said there are several ways to beat the blitz. They include using a sight adjustment, which involves the receiver and quarterback reacting to the defense and changing the route.
Many problems Sunday seemed to come on sight adjustments, with Freeman apparently anticipating different routes from WR Mike Williams, TE Kellen Winslow and others. The Saints unleashed 11 all-out blitzes, and Freeman diagnosed each, Olson said. The problem was what happened after that.
"He knew all of them," Olson said. "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."
Why not blitz?: Coach Raheem Morris, also the defensive coordinator, didn't use blitzes much early even as Saints QB Drew Brees stood comfortably in the pocket and carved up the secondary because of the lack of a pass rush. Morris said he decided to blitz occasionally later, but the Saints had a sizable lead by then.
Morris said, initially, he didn't feel it was a risk worth taking.
"At the (risk) of losing football games or giving up bigger plays and longer plays, I'm not going to do that as long as they give us a chance to be in it," Morris said. "(Sunday) it got out of whack early. We had to bring a couple of extra people and do some different things."
One thing Morris didn't argue is that his defense is not getting to quarterbacks — four sacks in five games — something those such as Brees will exploit.
"We're not getting great pressure," Morris said. "We're not doing a great job of shedding (blockers) and getting off blocks and getting to the quarterback."
The defensive line is young, with its top three tackles in their first or second seasons. But that can't be an excuse.
"We just have to grow up faster," he said. "We have to play as a unit, and we're not getting that right now."
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.