Saints' blitz gives Freeman fits
Roy Cummings, The Tampa Tribune, published 7 November 2011

Raheem Morris believes stats are for losers. One look at Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman's stat line from the Bucs' 27-16 loss to the Saints tells you why.

Though Freeman's day was statistically equal to, if not better than, the one enjoyed by Saints quarterback Drew Brees, any comparison had to end there.

Harassed by an array of blitzes, Freeman seldom looked comfortable in completing 27 of 37 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown. Brees was seldom hurried while completing 27 of 36 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.

"When you face the Saints you're going to get a bunch of all-out pressures, and he got his fair share of that,'' Morris said of Freeman. "So, he did throw some balls off his heels today. He just missed some throws, too, but those are the ones you have to make, especially those in the red zone. Those are the plays you have to make when you play an elite team like the Saints.''

The Bucs went 1-for-2 in the red zone on Sunday, with the miss resulting in a field goal that cut the Saints' lead to 24-9. Three of Freeman's 10 incompletions came during that red zone opportunity. He said afterward that he definitely missed a couple of throws he should have made.

Freeman also missed on a throw from the Saints' 22-yard line to running back Kregg Lumpkin earlier in the game, but he refused to blame any of his misses on the pressure he faced from the Saints defense.

"When they all-out blitz you like that, you just don't have the opportunity to really step up in the pocket and throw the way you want to,'' Freeman said. "But I think we did a good job up front. They gave me time to get the ball out.''

Freeman was further beset by two nagging problems. His receivers dropped several catchable balls and penalties were a hindrance.

"The penalties are tough, because you want to be aggressive especially when you're playing a team like the Saints, because if you don't meet their level of intensity or you won't have a chance,'' he said. "But at the same time, the blatant stuff we just can't have.

"The stuff where you get beat and you hold a guy that's the kind of stuff that's tough, because it always seems to come at the most inopportune times. We'll be driving and we're making moves and the next thing you know we're back and it's first-and-20 or second-and-20 or whatever. It's something we have to stay on top of until they go away.''

Freeman has thrown 10 interceptions this season, but did not turn the ball over against the Saints. "They were playing a lot of Cover 2, so they were sitting on a lot of our shots (deep and into the end zone),'' Freeman said. "That's why you saw a lot of those check downs. They were sitting on some of our big plays.''