Where are they headed?

Mike Shanahan still says they're going in the right direction. The record needs to start reflecting that outlook. At 3-5, the Redskins sit, once more, at a crossroads. They've responded well this season when facing a similar scenario and must do so again vs. 1-6 Carolina. You can say all you want about what direction you're headed, but winning is the ultimate barometer. As any writing instructor would say, "Show, don't tell."


Can they make a trade to help? It's rare for teams in the NFL to make trades at the deadline (which is Thursday). Besides, what the Redskins need is a pass rusher and a top safety. Exactly how many teams are willing to trade those at the deadline? Teams trade players they want to get rid of, or know they won't bring back. Like when the Redskins wanted to trade Albert Haynesworth.

3How hot is coordinator Jim Haslett's seat?

If there's no legitimate improvement, then at season's end it could be real hot. But for now, what's the alternative? Promote the coach of a unit that is struggling most (Raheem Morris) -- and who is in his first season in a 3-4? That makes no sense. The Redskins must improve with what they have on the roster.


Will the defense be better equipped to handle Cam Newton this time around? The Redskins know as well as anyone the problems of facing a multi-dimensional quarterback. Last season Newton threw for 256 yards and a touchdown and ran for 59 more and another score vs. Washington. But his game is definitely off this season. If he runs for some yards against them, that's fine. The Redskins need to force him into errant throws off his back foot, as others have done. It could be a game the defense makes big plays.


Should corner DeAngelo Hall be suspended? No. Minnesota's Harrison Smith and New England coach Bill Belichick both made contact with officials earlier this year and didn't get suspended. All Hall did was drop an expletive a few times. He was ejected, but that and a fine should be the extent of his penalty. Regardless, he did not act like a team leader in this situation. What the Redskins really need is for him to play like one.

- John Keim