The question the Dolphins were asking, the question I was asking, the question you had to be asking as the New England Patriots dismantled the Dolphins 38-7 on Sunday, was ARE THE DOLPHINS THIS FAR FROM BEING PATRIOTS GOOD?
Make no mistake, the Dolphins do have talent. Their defensive line is good and deep. Their specialists (punter, kicker, long snapper) are among the better ones in the league. Their wide receiver corps is one good deep threat from being outstanding. The corners will be good once they figure out how to catch interceptions.
But this game was such a total butt whipping, such a domination, that it had to raise questions about, about ... everything.
Remember the Patriots didn't play Wes Welker, or Deion Branch, or Aaron Hernandez. Remember they turned the lights out on the offense in the fourth quarter -- running instead of passing on third down, and running one fourth down when they could have kicked a field goal.
And still the Patriots looked like they're a great team while the Dolphins looked like a bottom drawer team light years from competing for a title. Understand that New England won twice as many games as the Dolphins this year. Twice as many!
And they're rebuilding. And they have three picks in the first 33 selections of next spring's NFL draft. And they have six selections in the first three rounds.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, will be without a second round pick.
Miami will have the No. 15 pick in the first round behind Carolina, Denver, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, Cleveland, San Francisco, Tennessee, Dallas, Washington, Houston, Minnesota, Detroit and St. Louis.
Can the Dolphins pluck a super star at No. 15 that will bridge the gap between them and New England? Only if that guy is a future Hall of Fame worthy quarterback. But those don't typically hang out until the 15th pick in the draft unless several folks in several NFL outposts are blowing it on draft day.
No matter what happens in the next couple of days. No matter who the next coach or general manager is -- be it Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland or someone else -- this Dolphins team isn't borderline title ready.
They think they're close.
They think they're one or two players away. I believe they're five or six players away. And as we saw on Sunday, that's a far, far way from the team the Dolphins have to beat to win their division.