Got Juice?

The answer to that question actually begs the asking of another question. This year or next? So, what does the Cowboys' Nation have to say? If citrus is to be squeezed from the current crop of Silver and Blue, then three entities will loom large in determining what type of bumper take it will be.

In no specific order, Tony Romo (and his continued development), Wade Phillips (and his new arrival) and the Phillips/Stewart defensive scheme (and its Decemberibility) will headline the produce section.

However, if the crop report isn't due until after the conclusion of the 2007 season, then the Vitamin C production might reside in the free agency market and the 2008 Draft. The Cowboys intimated there were no "pressing" needs heading into this year's Draft, so they are primarily relying on this year's free agency take and the three factors mentioned above to deliver the goods. If things fall into place, and the new coaching regime can play to the strengths and tweak the deficiencies, there's no reason the question can't evolve to "Got Rings?"

Holding true to their stance of no immediate holes to fill, the Cowboys appeared to execute a drafting strategy formulated in advance of this past weekend's proceedings. The plan involved many facets and forethought which certainly included Wade Phillips' assessment of his defensive personnel. By all indications, Phillips is looking to institute the same 3-4 scheme bringing him success in San Diego. Not only is he looking for the DeMarcus Ware compliment, he went to the same well producing Shawne Merriman's running mate. Only time will tell, but they may have located the Shaun Phillips clone.

It appears they may have called Purdue, consulted with the defensive staff, and ordered another outside pass rusher. Same school, same size and hopefully the same results. If Phillips and Brian Stewart are looking for edge pressure, you can't fault the logic. Especially when the bottom line indicates a three year progression of steadily improving sacks and tackles. The Cowboys certainly like the indicators, and if Anthony Spencer's Big Ten opponents are any consolation, both Joe Thomas and Levi Brown seemed to think Spencer provided their biggest tests.

Right, wrong or indifferent, the Draft pundits and personnel evaluators will always look back at this Draft and apply the Brady Quinn assessment. Rightfully so as he was there in the sights and ripe for the taking. Jerry admitted to having to stare this one down and look it straight in the eye. If you're Tony Romo you have to love the organizational statement and commitment. Some will say it was negligent passing on a top ten talent, especially a quarterback when the Cowboys aren't definitive on exactly what they have in Tony Romo. Four to six weeks of Pro Bowl garnering play is not sufficient enough to render the search over. However, if Romo is what the Cowboys hope he is, there was no reason to draft Quinn, pay first round, quarterback, money only to have him ride the bench and bide time. The only question worthy of debate is the departure from the Draft board. However, there are exceptions to every rule.

The Cowboys will say all the right things, but in the back of their minds, they hope they've found something with Nick Folk. They would like nothing more than to eliminate the dreaded two place kicker scenario. Every team wants to dedicate only two roster spots to the kicking specialists, and one of them is a punter. So, if Martin Gramatica, and the drapes haven't been purchased, it's recommended the blanket over the window option continues until after Camp. Seriously now, the Cowboys drafting a kicker? This guy has size, power and scoring ability, and you don't draft him unless he's going to get a legit shot at being the man.

There will be many mini camp and training camp developments to monitor, but none more intriguing than the evolution of the defensive front seven. With Anthony Spencer's arrival, the anticipations mount as to how Wade Phillips will put together the pieces. When the Cowboys take the field against the New York Giants to open the 2007 campaign, what will the configuration be? Many potential moving parts, but the questions remain. Will the Bobby Carpenter selection be forever debated? Where does Greg Ellis, and his rehabbing Achilles, fit in? Is there a possible return to the hand on the ground for Ellis? If so, what will be his demeanor this year? What exactly is the organizational read on Bradie James? Does Kevin Burnett have another "survives camp" life in him? Will Canty and Spears bring something to the table? Spears must as he's already blamed the previous scheme for his lack of productivity. Could Spears be looked at to spell and ultimately replace Jason Ferguson? Is home town Ayodele safe?

Two things are certain. Depending on how many roster spots they'll commit to the LB ranks, the rotation could be stout. Secondly, there will be no shortage of competition throughout both camps. Hopefully an aggressive scheme also brings along aggressive nature.

Without major overhauls, the Cowboys are admitting they're ready to ride with basically the same 2006 personnel. Certainly Leonard Davis and Ken Hamlin will weigh heavily into the mix, and a rookie or two may be called on to contribute early on. So, can they compete at a high level? High enough to achieve post season play aspirations? If you're Jerry Jones, don't you have to mandate it even with a new coaching staff? Anything shy of a playoff berth will be rendered a complete disaster.

You have to love the eyes already scanning the prospect lists for the 2008 Draft. The names are already making the rounds. Darren McFadden, Jake Long, Sam Baker, Brian Brohm and Steve Slaton. Never too early to start your shopping. There certainly will be some "juice" pouring within next year's crop, and the Cowboys should be positioned to swing a pretty big hammer. Finding Phil Savage was heaven sent. While it's way too early to speculate, you have to think "offense (and some will say finally)" in next year's first round proceedings. Feel free to pull out the dart board and hone in on where Cleveland will finish, but it already sets up pretty nice.

They'll be picked to finish last in the AFC North. Assumptions could be skewed, but there's a pretty big talent difference between Cleveland and the other three teams in that division. Even better, if Brady Quinn surfaces in the starting role at any point during the 2007 season, the towel has been thrown in, Romeo Crennel is on the ropes and the makeover has begun. The AFC still has the power, and even if the Browns were competitive in divisional play, there's just too much muscle in the conference for them to excel. The Cowboys deserve major credit on this maneuver.

This is going to be one interesting season for Julius Jones. He is running for his Cowboys' life. You just can't describe it any other way. What more motivation do you need? The heavy-handedness of Bill Parcells is gone, the offensive line hopefully has been upgraded, you're running for money and the Cowboys hold the hammer for next year's Draft. Julius Jones controls a good portion of his own destiny, and according to the shelf life manual on NFL running backs, this is the financial security contract staring you in the face. It just doesn't get much clearer than that. Run, Julius, run.

Julius Jones isn't the only contractual issue the Cowboys must address next year. There will be a bevy of decisions to make regarding the likes of Flozell, Terence Newman, Tony Romo, Patrick Crayton, Ken Hamlin and others. The most important contract might involve that of Jeff Ireland. This is a vital decision for the organization, and it's hoped Jerry gets this one done before any player is considered. With the Scouting Department being a round the calendar operation, securing this piece is essential. Say what you will about this year's Draft haul, and be very quick to admit there's no telling anything at this point, but the last few years, with Jeff Ireland and staff involved, have been remarkably prosperous in comparison to the pre-Ireland days.

Speaking of prosperous and knowing anything can happen in today's NFL, click on this link,, and save the page to your favorites. It's a slate and running tally you don't want to miss on a weekly basis. It's understood the pads haven't even been pulled from the equipment lockers, but one glance at this docket shows anything but smooth sailing. With San Francisco on the ascent, it would be absolutely priceless to see the determination for the #1 overall pick in the 2008 Draft come down to the last regular season game. Better yet, how about Cleveland up by 3 with two seconds remaining, San Fran ball and Frank Gore taking one to the Dawg Pound? That deafening noise heard is the shot heard around the Cowboys' Nation.

How's that for some "JUICE?"

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