The beginning of an NFL season represents optimism, and should possess excitement and renewed hope.
There's usually playoff talk and aspirations for a division title. Maybe someone will whisper those two words few dare speak of in July ... Super Bowl.
As South Floridians we've been on this merry-go-round before, but it has been a while since the ride has spun this fast. The intensity has been turned up on the Dolphins courtesy of the $150 million-plus makeover Steve Ross' checkbook has provided.
A free agent spending spree isn't the way to build a franchise, but it certainly does help one plug holes fast, creating excitement.
"They're trying to definitely improve the team, and I'm sure that everybody that's involved is in agreement with the course of action that they're taking, so hopefully it will work out for them," said former Dolphins czar Bill Parcells, who laid a fragile foundation before leaving the team in 2010.
All that's left of the Parcells era is General Manager Jeff Ireland and a handful of starters like Cameron Wake, Brian Hartline, Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Randy Starks and Richie Incognito.
The Parcells era of the Dolphins is long gone, and so are his influences. But his pupil, Ireland, remains at the control of this carousel.
Whether that's a good thing can be debated till we're dizzy — and already has. But ultimately this season will provide us a definitive answer to that question because if Miami can't produce a winning record with this expensive, full-fledged makeover all hope is lost.
However, Parcells believes the turbulent offseason the Patriots had should bring them back to the pack a little, providing a window of opportunity for Miami.
"I think their division is such that they can be competitive, and even maybe have a chance to win it, so I'm hopeful that goes well for them," Parcells said. "I do have a high regard for Steve Ross. I like him very much. I talk to him from time to time, and I certainly wish him well."
What Ross and South Florida deserves is what Parcells promised back in 2007, which is a franchise on a solid foundation.
If one was in place this head-to-toe makeover wouldn't be needed.
But last year's 7-9 team needed more speed, so the Dolphins gave Mike Wallace a $60 million contract, and made him one of the NFL's highest paid receivers.
An offensive line that lost Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long needed to be fortified so the front office signed Tyson Clabo and Lance Louis and drafted former Tennessee standout Dallas Thomas in the third-round.
The Dolphins needed more turnovers and game-altering plays so the franchise signed younger and more athletic linebackers in Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler and drafted Florida's Jelani Jenkins.
Joe Philbin's team needed to cover downfield better so Miami added former Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes and drafted two rookie cornerbacks, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, early.
The defense needed more pass rushing than the 42 sacks recorded last season so Miami traded up to select Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan third-overall, adding the prospect viewed as the 2013 draft's top defender.
Dan Carpenter broke down at the end of the season, so the Dolphins got a younger and cheaper kicker, selecting former Florida standout Caleb Sturgis in the fifth-round.
Everything that was perceived as a problem with the old Dolphins has supposedly been fixed. There were so many new faces when the team began practicing back in April name tags were needed.
"I think we're confident, but we're hungry," said quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is entering his second season as the Dolphins' starter. "We understand that it's not going to come together overnight, but we have to put in the time during camp."
Problem is the 2013 squad has been built by the same architect that built the rosters that turned in four straight losing seasons.
The true purpose of training camp and the exhibition season will be identifying what exactly, or who exactly will make this season any different than the previous four?
Spending big doesn't guarantee wins. Parcells did that his first two season in Miami with little success.
What the Dolphins, and their fan base need is a way to get off this merry-go-round of mediocre.
Only wins can do that.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun