The club lost 4-3 to League One side Walsall in to exit the Capital One Cup, conceding a last minute goal moments after substitute Michail Antonio had scored an equaliser.
It was not the way Forest wanted their first home game of the season to go, days after losing their Championship opener away at Brighton.
Freedman singled out his side's defence for criticism, explaining his players lacked the necessary intensity to compete.
He said: "What’s happening right now is there’s a lack of desire on an individual basis to keep the ball out of the back of the net. Whether that be stopping crosses, winning headers or whatever it is. You cannot concede four goals."
While The Sun report a deal for striker Michael Frey could be completed today, Forest boss Freedman indicated fixing the backline was a far bigger priority.
He said: "The priorities have changed, it’s as simple as that.
“The priorities have now changed from bringing in a flair player with cutting edge to identifying what I need to have some desire at the other end. We are in a scenario where it’s very difficult but we’ve got a few spaces.”
Forest remain under a transfer embargo and can only sign players on loan, or as free agents. Even then restrictions on wages apply, as per conditions of the Football League ruling.