There's plenty of focus on the future of coach Jason Garrett these days.
You should need no explanation of why Garrett's job security comes with a question mark. It's not enough for a team to be stuck in the fleshy midsection between good and bad that has been their residence for their last few seasons in the NFL.
Either you tear things down and try to rebuild from the ground up or you throw thoughts about the future to the wind in hopes of capitalizing on a precise moment in time. Anything else is death by repetition as the same mistakes and misjudgments sink a team that seems to be satisfied with just being close enough to being good that they don't have to go the rebuilding route.
Changing coaches is the quickest and most cosmetic way to make it seem like you're going all in at a run at a title, especially if the next coach is a guy who has a track record of great success at the NFL level. It's not enough for Jerry Jones to just go out and hire Mike Holmgren or Sean Payton, however.
It's going to come from the players he provides for Garrett or whatever coach comes next. That leads us to linebacker Anthony Spencer, who is in the midst of his best NFL season with free agency looming at the end of the year.
The call the Cowboys wind up making on Spencer is going to go a long way toward showing if the Cowboys are in it to go all the way or if they'll be happy with a full stadium and an outside chance at making the playoffs.
If they franchise Spencer again and hold onto him for one year, the team sends a clear message that they don't mind life in that fleshy midsection of the league. There's no commitment beyond the bare minimum, a one-year deal that kicks the can down the road and keeps the team on this same aimless trajectory.
That's not an argument in favor of a long-term deal nor is it an argument against one. There's good reason to keep Spencer, whose versatility has always been underrated, but there could also be just as good a reason to move in another direction at the position without compromising the team's chances of contending for something real in 2013.
It has to come as part of an overall blueprint, though. No more spending big on cornerbacks while ignoring safeties. No more signing mediocre guards or extending mediocre tackles like Doug Free to go with a legitimate talent in Tyron Smith. No more hiring Rob Ryan to overhaul the defense without giving him players to make it happen and no more giving Ryan rope when he makes it clear he can't make the pieces already in place work for him.
Cohesion is what's been missing from the Cowboys. It won't come just because of the decision they make in regard to Spencer, but it's the first chance they'll have to show that there's an actual rhyme and reason to everything the Cowboys are doing to win a title.