It’s uncommon that a prominent NFL figure is willing to step out on a ledge for a New York Jets quarterback, but that’s what former Dallas Cowboys star Tony Romo has done on two separate occasions for rookie Zach Wilson.
The first moment of praise came during Romo’s media availability ahead of the Utah Open Pro-Am golf event. Sam Farnsworth of Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV released the video to the public, momentarily breaking the internet.
“I think you guys don’t quite know how good this kid is, I think he is super rare,” Romo said, “I think he’s like a young Dan Marino… People forget Marino was the guy in the 80s and then it morphed into [Joe] Montana and their winning all the Super Bowls [and] stuff. But it was like, you know how [Aaron] Rodgers has all the talent and stuff, right, and [Tom] Brady’s like Montana… I just think Zach has rare ability.”
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‘A Young Dan Marino’
That’s high praise from the four-time Pro Bowler, Romo. The Miami Dolphins legend wasn’t just a unique talent as a passer, he was an ironman of 17 seasons that was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments.
Marino was a nine-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro quarterback, and 1984 MVP among other achievements. He threw for over 61,000 regular-season passing yards with 420 touchdowns through the air and nine more on the ground.
In terms of his skill set, Marino was always known for his “golden arm and lightning-quick release,” as well as his silky-smooth precision out of the pocket. The game seemed easy for the former Dolphin and Jets fans can only hope it’s just as easy for Wilson.
The one thing the all-time great didn’t do was win a Super Bowl despite 10 different playoff appearances (8-10 postseason record). For Wilson, a championship seems like the only thing that matters.
“You can’t buy a Super Bowl,” Wilson replied when asked about his initial ‘dream purchase’ after signing his rookie contract earlier this summer.
The Lombardi Trophy is another conversation altogether in a team sport like this, while the traits Romo sees in Wilson are God-given. Besides Marino, one other former MVP comes to mind for the quarterback-turned broadcaster that has a knack for predicting the game, and this player is more contemporary.
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Romo Is at It Again
After the Marino comments, there was some backlash on Romo but it didn’t stop the CBS analyst from doubling down during a video promotional call for his network’s NFL coverage operation on September 1.
“I actually think Zach Wilson with the Jets, is going to turn that franchise around,” Romo stated this time, “I think Zach Wilson is going to be in the discussion as one of the top three to five quarterbacks [in the league] very quickly, within the next couple of years. I think you’re going to see him rise, I think he’s unbelievable. His ceiling is so high. It’s rare for me to say someone has the ability to get in the stratosphere of a [Patrick] Mahomes, but I think this kid actually has that ability. So when you have a quarterback like that, I think there’s no telling how good you can be. He can make up for a lot of weaknesses in a lot of areas for a football team.”
The full clip can be heard on Good Morning Football and co-host Peter Schrager actually agreed with Romo on September 2.
We’ve heard Mahomes comparisons before for Wilson, we’ve even heard Rodgers come up often in the discussion. It’s the arm angles, the accuracy, the effortless mix of arm strength and precision, and more. What we have not heard is someone commit to that top-five NFL quarterback status. Romo has done that here, predicting that the BYU product can reach that level of success.
Jets fans will probably react to this in one of two ways, jubilation or nervousness. The obvious hope is that Wilson can live up to these massive expectations. After all, he has so far.
The fear is that he’ll let the fanbase down, as every Jets quarterback has since Joe Namath.
Team Leaders & Staff Praise Wilson
It’s easy to love what you see from the Utah native on the field, but his presence off the field is a large reason why he’s attracting so much attention.
New York Giants’ legendary QB Phil Simms spoke out recently on why he loved the rookie’s risk-taker mentality.
Head coach Robert Saleh then stole headlines when he said that he felt the first-year signal-caller was “light years beyond a normal rookie,” later elaborating that he was referring to Wilson’s process in the film room and in practice.
More recently on September 2, Saleh added that the rookie’s “most impressive moments are off the field” when he’s in meeting rooms asking questions.
General manager Joe Douglas also had this to say on Wilson: “He’s been everything we’ve hoped for, scouting him at BYU. Again, just his passion for the game, the way he soaks up information, his process, his preparation, just the way that he gets ready for practices, it’s been good seeing him download this information and not make the same mistake twice. Obviously, his physical skills jump out, the way he throws the ball is just an effortless motion… he’s been everything that we hoped he would be coming out.”
His veteran teammates have noticed a few in-game characteristics that make him a rare prospect as well, as Romo suggested.
“The first thing you notice is [Wilson’s] confidence, and just his poise in the pocket,” linebacker C.J. Mosley stated during a press conference on August 30.
Connor McGovern piled on in the compliments, explaining that the way he “carries himself in a game is phenomenal.” The center called the rookie quarterback “a gamer,” noting his leadership and command of the huddle.