Sauce Gardner is certainly feeling himself right now, and the confidence is well deserved. The rookie cornerback just finished a season that saw him do something we haven’t seen in over 40 years. Gardner is one of the top cornerbacks in the league after just a single season, and with his emergence as a star for the New York Jets they are building one of the best defenses in the league around him.
After the Jets failed to make the postseason they have a lot of reflecting to do in the offseason. Most of their questions revolve around their QB spot after Zach Wilson has officially become a bust following the Jets drafting him with the second overall pick in 2021.
One of the portions of their team they don’t have to second-guess is their defense. The Jets had a great year defensively, led by their two defensive stars Quinnen Williams and rookie Sauce Gardner.
The Cincinnati standout was notorious for locking down some of the NFL’s top receivers, due in part to an insane combination of size, skill, and technique that allows him to remain glued to receivers and make plays on the ball.
Because of his amazing year, Gardner was named first-team All-Pro. He also was named a Pro Bowl starter. Gardner undoubtedly had one of the best rookie years we’ve seen from a cornerback in a long time. His selection to first-team All-Pro means that he is the first rookie cornerback in 41 years to be named to the ceremonious team since Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott did so in 1981 with the San Francisco 49ers.
Gardner is in elite company, but that’s only cause he’s an elite cornerback. But he already knows this.
He took to Twitter to boast about his early achievements and how excited and proud he is of his accomplishments.
Gardner tweeted: “First Rookie CB to get 1st Team All-Pro for the first time in 41 years… Thank you God, None of this would be possible without you and the great group of guys on our defense;especially the D-LINE, This for Detroit, Product of Detroit King Highschool”
Gardner’s confidence is unwavering, which is a key attribute for any great defensive back. This is a trait shared by former New York Jets great and Hall of Fame finalist Darrelle Revis.
“Revis Island” was the last Jets superstar shutdown corner who made quarterbacks pay for even thinking of throwing to his side of the field.
Revis has had high praise for Gardner, and he even envisions him being the next great Jet.
“I think the sky’s the limit for him,” Revis said to reporters at a news conference in November ahead of his induction into the Jets Ring of Honor. “I think he can take on that legacy as being a New York Jet great.”
Revis hasn’t been wrong about Gardner yet.
What makes these feats by Gardner even more impressive is the fact that cornerback is arguably the hardest position to play in football, and Gardner makes it look so effortless.
The Jets seem to be just a quarterback away from being playoff contenders, thanks in part to the stout job the defense is doing. It all starts with Gardner taking the best receiver out of the game with his shutdown technique.