Colin Cowherd isn’t quite a fan boy of Sam Darnold, but the national sports talk figure is awfully close to being president of the NFL quarterback’s fan club.

On Thursday’s episode of ‘The Herd’ which airs on Fox Sports Radio and is simulcast nationally on FS1, Cowherd hit a number of NFL topics. Midway through the show, he discussed Darnold and his outlook on the New York Jets. In a very tongue in cheek way, he addressed the talk that his cheerleading of the Jets quarterback over the past two seasons has hurt his national perception around the NFL – “half the people who listen hate me” he said before launching into a defense of Darnold.

The thoughtful and pragmatic Cowherd talked about how bad the Jets offensive line has been the past two years and also said that the offense has been lacking playmakers, two factors that have dampened Darnold’s development.

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“You keep pushing back on Russell Wilson until you’re finally like ‘He makes everything work.’ Darnold, I have to quite praising him and I just want you to watch him,” Cowherd said on Thursday’s show.

“And I think their schedule this year is brutal. I think their weapons are still bottom. I like Le’Veon Bell, not sure he has a ton left. [Chris] Herndon is a great tight end, he’s just never available to play. But I think I’m hurting Sam Darnold.”

Set to enter his third year in the league, Darnold showed considerable growth as he cut back on turnovers in going 6-2 over the season’s final eight games. Now with a rebuilt offensive line that should be vastly improved over last year’s unit and some more playmakers on offense, Darnold should be ready to take the next step.

“Seriously, I think people are pushing back because they don’t like me,” Cowherd said.

“So from now on, it’s just ‘that guy with the Jets.’ Coming up, I like maps…”