In the eyes of many, the maturation of quarterback Sam Darnold was at the foundation of the Jets hiring Adam Gase to be their newest head coach.
A lot of what lies behind that is the season produced by Peyton Manning on the Denver Broncos with Gase as his quarterbacks coach, with Manning's production very much putting Gase on the map.
For many of the Gang Green faithful, the hiring of Gase not long after he parted ways with the AFC East-rival Dolphins was not met with overwhelming applause. Perhaps an endorsement from Manning might help. That's what Gase received on Friday.
"I think it's a good fit for Sam," the legendary quarterback said on Friday at a DirecTV promotional event per NJ.com. "Adam was wonderful to me after my injury. I had to learn to play football in a sort of different physical state because I couldn't throw the ball the same way."
The 21-year-old Darnold, who the Jets selected third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie year, but overall had struggles beneath the umbrella of the defensive-minded Todd Bowles as coach. The Jets went 4-12, with Darnold passing for 2,865 yards and 17 touchdowns in 13 games, sputtering with 15 interceptions and a 57.7 completion percentage. Manning believes those numbers can improve for Darnold under the guise of Gase.
"I'm pulling for him to have great success there," Manning said. "Now that I'm not playing, [I enjoy] not only keeping up with [my brother] Eli, but coaches who I played for and players that I played with. I'm pulling hard for Adam. I like Sam, as well, and I think he has a bright future ahead of him."
Manning departed Indianapolis after having already authored a Hall of Fame career at that point. He missed all of the 2011 season with a neck injury and after his release from the Colts was signed by the Broncos ahead of the 2012 season. It was in the 2013 campaign that the Manning-Gase marriage drew acclaim as the signal-caller led the Broncos to the Super Bowl and threw for NFL single-season records of 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.
"Mentally, Adam was able to take some plays that I used to run and build this hybrid offense where I could just go out there and play," Manning said.