Former Cowboys quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst Tony Romo sees some similarities between Jets quarterback Sam Darnold and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
Considering what Manning was able to accomplish with Adam Gase, the newest Jets head coach, that bodes well for Darnold.
Romo praised the Jets for hiring Gase and believes Darnold can take his game to the next level with Gase.
"I think putting him together with Sam Darnold is going to be a very good combination," Romo said og Gase on Thursday at the CBS Broadcast Center, according to USA TODAY's Lorenzo Reyes. "I think Darnold has some Peyton Manning-like traits, and Adam did a great job, obviously, with Peyton in that situation."
Gase helped Manning flourish in Denver. Coming off neck surgeries and at 37 years old, Manning led the league and set career highs with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 passing yards en route to a 13-3 regular-season record and Super Bowl title.
Granted, Darnold isn't Manning. In his rookie season, Darnold threw for 2,865 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 13 games. He showed flashes of his potential, throwing for six touchdowns and one interception over his last four games after a foot strain.
But Romo thinks there's a lot more to Darnold than his numbers.
"Just spatial awareness, ability to get through reads quickly," Romo said. "I think he's going to be a fantastic player. I think he's going to make a huge leap next year. Some players have the ability -- I call it spatial awareness, the instinctual ability to see leverage and get off a receiver when they're going through a progression far faster than other people -- that's probably the most underrated trait that people can't analyze. They see running. They see movement. Or they see the big play. What they don't see is you got to the fourth receiver in 1.2 seconds, not 2.4. That's really the secret to the best players at that position, and I think Sam has some of those qualities."
Romo has been high on Darnold, the No. 3 pick in last year's draft, for a while. In November, before Darnold suffered the injury, Romo predicted Darnold was primed for a "monster leap" and thinks that can happen for him in Year 2.
Having an offensive-minded head coach in Gase, New York's first since Rich Kotite, will only help.
"I think he's a fantastic coach," Romo said. "I think he has a great mind for offensive football. I also think sometimes it's a good thing when you really have to reflect on when you let as a coach or a player. I think you have to look at yourself and I think that will be a good thing because he'll analyze what he thought he could do better and what he did well."
Manning once called Gase "the smartest guy I know" and even called Jets CEO Christopher Johnson to voice his support for Gase when the Jets were still making their decision.
Darnold, himself, said he "couldn't be more excited" to work with Gase, from his work with past quarterbacks to his "fiery" attitude.
"I think we can take this a long way," Darnold said. "There's a lot to be excited about. There's a lot of points that are going to be scored."
Maybe even as many as Manning once scored.