Dave Hyde: Mahomes, Allen, Jackson show the big obstacles Dolphins face in road to Super Bowl

If I’m Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross, I send coach Mike McDaniel and general manager Chris Grier to a faraway island for the next week to answer one question: How do we take the necessary step forward?

Besides defect to the NFC South, that is.

That’s what former Patriots coach Bill Belichick is smartly doing, if reports turn true. He’s on to Atlanta, assuming dots get connected and the New York Jets remain in a coma.

Belichick in Atlanta sounds like Sinatra playing the Holiday Inn. But Rule No. 1 in taking a job right now is to avoid this growing gauntlet of AFC quarterbacks, unless you have one of them. And even that hasn’t helped against Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.

The NFC quarterbacks in Sunday’s championship game are good, solid, wholesome-as-milk types. San Francisco’s Brock Purdy and Detroit’s Jared Goff don’t scare you, though.

They wouldn’t rank among the top five quarterbacks in the AFC. Both don’t fit in the top 10, if we’re being honest. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, the two-time league Most Valuable Player, meets two-time Super Bowl champ Mahomes in the AFC title game.

That matchup has everything: Marquee names, style points, elite contrasts and two quarterbacks who can carry their teams to the Super Bowl rather than just accompany them.

Mahomes has helped Kansas City to six straight AFC championship games in his seven years. He’s dead-ended all other dreams, too. He beat Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow in this conference championship by three points in each of the previous two years.

He beat Buffalo’s Josh Allen in overtime in the 2021 playoffs when Buffalo mismanaged the final 13 seconds. He then beat Buffalo again on Sunday despite Allen carrying his team’s full load and playing pristinely perfect until he couldn’t get the winning touchdown and watched the tying field goal go wide.

So he’s 0-3 in the playoffs against Mahomes and critics loaded up against Allen with that stat. Consider this: Allen has completed 75 percent of his passes in those three games with seven touchdowns (and two more running), one interception and a 98.9 passer rating. Mahomes has eight TDs against no interceptions and a 125.2 rating.

It’s Manning versus Brady, Marino versus Montana, great versus great.

Here’s the kicker: Mahomes, at 28, is the oldest of this AFC quarterback club. It’s growing, too. Houston’s C.J. Stroud showed his talent in winning a playoff game, and he showed what he’s made of with his counsel to fellow rookie Will Anderson, who was crying after Saturday’s loss to Baltimore.

“We’re good,’’ Stroud told him. “We’re going to be good next year.”

There’s a cautionary tale of Dan Marino leaving Stanford Stadium after losing in his second year with the Dolphins and consoling himself by knowing there were many more Super Bowls coming in his career. That, of course, was it for him.

But the larger point is the AFC quarterback class is a tsunami of talent right now. Add to the aforementioned five players the Los Angeles ChargersJustin Herbert, the Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa and Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, and you have three more quarterbacks who can step up in class.

Well, they can step up if they can get by Mahomes. He has what the others have yet to prove: A championship organization to go with the golden arm.

Mahomes’ 23 passes against Buffalo were a career playoff low. No more were needed considering they delivered a couple of touchdowns to complement a strong running game and good-enough defense.

Allen, meanwhile, had to pick up the city of Buffalo all day. The Bills’ defense was injured, though not as injured as the Dolphins against Kansas City the previous week.

(Quick aside: The Dolphins, down six starters, held Kansas City to 6.4 yards a play. Buffalo, down a few starters, allowed 9.3 yards a play. Maybe the first step for McDaniel and Grier this offseason is to ensure defensive coordinator Vic Fangio stays in town).

There are many playoff narratives that weren’t relevant this past weekend. Like: The Bills were playing great (Pittsburgh rolled on their defense the week before). Like: Kansas City had never won a playoff game on the road (So what? At this point in their dynastic run, playing on the road might add an element of energy). Like: Lamar Jackson hadn’t won a playoff game (he hadn’t had a team like this with him, either).

But the narrative that’s holding is it’s easier to get to the Super Bowl in the NFC than the AFC. That adds to the Dolphins’ work in an offseason of hard work.

It also means the Jets are crazy if they haven’t called Belichick. The geezer coach could pair with the geezer quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. They’d have two years to either ride to greatness or to assisted living together.

As it is, Belichick sounds like he’s off to Atlanta. It’s an odd fit of grump and grits. Then again, he’s smart in one way: His road back to the Super Bowl wouldn’t go through Mahomes, Jackson, Allen and Burrow.