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Could Ryan Mallett have made a difference for Miami?

This season is lost. I believe that. I've written that. The Dolphins record screams that.

And the primary reason this season is lost and Tony Sparano and his team have less than half a chance every game day is because they are starting a backup quarterback and acting like he's legit. He is not.

Look, Matt Moore is a nice guy. He is a guy you can bring into a game in an emergency and compete for a couple of quarters. But if you're asking your football team to go into games against Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer and even Ryan Fitzpatrick with Moore as your comparable weapon, you are battling cruise missles with a popgun.

The last team to do that, the Carolina Panthers, finished its season with the worst record in the NFL. And that's the same track the Dolphins are traveling now with Moore.

Frankly, this is a team that tries hard but simply does not have enough talent at the most important position on the field to compete with just about anyone else. No one on the coaching staff will admit it. No one in the locker room will say it publicly.

But everyone knows this to be true.

Here's another truth: There are a handful of college teams with better quarterbacks right now than the Miami Dolphins.

That is not exaggeration. Think about that.

Moore is a 65.3 rating passer. He's thrown only one touchdown and four interceptions in his time at the helm of the Miami offense.

Nothing personal against him, but everyone except the Dolphins knew he was not good enough when he was signed. And he has so far proven that. (Nice job, personnel department!)

And that leads to the logical question: What might have happened for Miami this year if general manager Jeff Ireland had picked enigmatic Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett in the April draft?

I don't know. No idea, actually.

But the question is a fair one because I seriously doubt Mallett, the best arm in the draft including Cam Newton, would give the Dolphins the same hopeless feeling you get watching Moore.

Think about that.

Mallett came out in a draft where he was considered more or less the on-field equal of most any of the QBs that were taken ahead of him. He sank because of his off-field issues, none of which we really can put a finger on completely. On-field, the pundits said he was better than Andy Dalton, for example, and a better passer than Cam Newton -- and you know what they're doing these days.

Mallett was selected by New England in the third round with the 74th overall pick.

The Dolphins passed on him twice -- in the first round, and then again in the second round when they traded up to the 60th overall selection to take running back Daniel Thomas. Thomas is so far a nice player when he's healthy. But as durability is a factor one must weigh when judging a player, the fact he's missed three games raises questions about him.

No, Mallett hasn't played in New England so we have no idea what kind of pro he would be. But he'd be a work in progress. He'd be a player the Dolphins could hope to squeeze improvement out of. His pedigree and arm certainly suggests he'd be as good as Moore in the short-term and much better as he gains experience.

With Mallett on the team, the Dolphins might still be a poor team, I grant you that. They might even be winless. But we'd be busy measuring his progress rather than hoping he and his teammates continue a winless spiral that would lead to Andrew Luck.

The Dolphins, in fact, did not draft Mallett. General Manager Jeff Ireland basically stalked the kid -- watching him at every workout and practically every game he played -- and could not find a comfort level with him.

That's a decision GMs get paid to make. Ireland will have to live with that one one way or the other for a long time to come -- depending on how good Thomas becomes relative to Mallett.

At the time he was unable to add Mallett or any other QB in the draft, Ireland set his sights on free agency or a trade to get a QB. He tried vainly to trade for both Carson Palmer and Kyle Orton but ultimately landed no one who could compete for a starting job with Chad Henne.

That was a gamble. It was a gamble Henne would be improved so much he could be solid. It was also a gamble Henne could stay healthy. The Dolphins rolled snake eyes on the latter.

And so they are left with Moore as the starter even though everyone knows he is not starter quality. And they are left rummaging the discards list of unemployed QBs for backups.

Sad isn't it? Pathetic, actually that an NFL team has no answer at the most important position on the field three games into the season when the starter gets hurt.

Ryan Mallett may not have been the answer in the long term because we don't know what his development will be or would have been.

But if the Dolphins had picked him, at least the QB they put on the field every week might have given them more of a chance to win now. Instead, you sense this helpless feeling over this team.

Oh, what might have been.