Nickel Package: Frost Fixes Flaw, Finds Form

The Tuesday Nickel Package: A matter of a couple of inches was taken many yards off of Derrick Frost's punts. He's gone from being a liability to being a weapon.

1. Has the Redskins' offense finally found its stride? Yes and no. I love what they did the other day, taking what the defense gave them. Mark Brunell got the ball to the playmakers and they made plays. Having Clinton Portis back makes a huge difference. But it appears that Al Saunders either lacks confidence in his line to protect Brunell on seven-step drops, or he lacks confidence in Brunell to stand in there and deliver throws downfield. Or both. Either way, until they prove they can do that, they'll be inconsistent.

2. Is Brunell off the hook now? Sort of. Like two years ago, the struggles of the first two games were not totally his fault. It's clear that he lacked trust in some receivers, perhaps stemming from still getting to know them. He still provides Washington the best chance to make the playoffs. Just hope that his left elbow does not become infected.

3. When will Shawn Springs return? Hopefully the Giants' game. He does not sound like a guy anticipating to play Sunday. The Redskins miss his leadership in the secondary. Also, without him, consider this: five of the top seven defensive backs are new this year. That leads to communication breakdowns all over the place. Which, of course, leads to big plays.  

4. What's gotten into Derrick Frost? Late in training camp, Frost -- an avid film watcher unlike many punters -- detected a flaw, along with Danny Smith. He was holding the ball off an inch of his target, leading to shanks and other poor punts. But he's punted like a Pro Bowler in three games. Of his last 11 punts, seven have been for over 50 yards. He's become a nice weapon. And if the offense can consistently move the ball, it'll start forcing opposing offenses to start their drives deeper in their own territory. Frost took some deserved heat this summer, but he deserves just the opposite now.

5. Will the pass rush ever come? By the front four, the answer seems to be no. Haven't seen evidence to think otherwise. The coaches are not disappointed in Andre Carter. They like his character and attitude and consider him a strong player. What they do wish is that he'd get his arms up to start batting down passes ala Phillip Daniels. But the coaches also claim he's being double teamed around 60 percent of the time -- quite high based on our re-watching of games. Still that means 40 percent of the time he's manned up -- and still not getting to the QB. It's not all just him, however, as no one else is getting there either. At least not without blitzing. Until they can apply pressure with their front four, they'll be a very good, but not great, defense.


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