The New York Jets have something special in the Sauce Gardner-D.J. Reed duo
While it’s too early to definitively say the 2022 Jets’ tantalizing cornerback duo is on the same level as the one that helped the franchise reach two AFC Championship games from 2009-10, they are certainly getting closer with each passing week.
Gardner and Reed just wrapped up another standout performance in the Jets’ Week 4 road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Playing 37 coverage snaps apiece, the duo combined to allow 32 yards and one first down. Gardner allowed 2-of-7 passing for 9 yards and zero firsts while Reed allowed 3-of-3 passing for only 23 yards and one first.
Four games in, this pairing is accumulating some remarkable numbers. Here is a look at their combined coverage statistics through Week 4:
- 37 targets
- 17 completions
- 174 yards
- 1 touchdown
- 1 interception
- 4.7 yards per target
- 45.9% completion percentage
- 57.7 passer rating
- 0 penalties
Jets fans: do you remember Bryce Petty? The former Gang Green QB had a 57.7 passer rating in his Jets career – equal to the mark being allowed by Gardner and Reed as a tandem.
So, basically, when opposing quarterbacks throw at Sauce or Reed, they turn into Bryce Petty.
One of the most impressive aspects of this duo’s production is its cleanliness. Neither player has committed a penalty yet.
In fact, the Jets’ entire cornerback group can be included in this. No Jets corner has committed a penalty this year. New York is the only team in the NFL that has not had a penalty by a cornerback this year.
It’s been a long time since the Jets had a competent cornerback duo, let alone one as dominant as Gardner and Reed. This pairing is the backbone of the Jets’ defense. Despite an inconsistent pass rush and often shaky play at the safety position, opposing offenses have been unable to truly explode on the Jets’ defense thanks to the air-tight coverage at cornerback.
With even just league-average cornerback play, it’s easy to picture the Jets defense placing at or near the bottom in passing yards allowed. Instead, they rank a respectable 15th with 217.8 passing yards per game. That is a testament to Gardner and Reed, who are each doing a great job of contesting targets and preventing targets in the first place.
Gardner and Reed’s hot start will be tested this week. They are about to face the toughest challenge the NFL could possibly offer them: Miami’s wide receiver duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
Hill leads the league with 477 receiving yards while Waddle ranks fifth with 381 yards. Their combined total of 858 receiving yards is 188 yards ahead of any other wide receiver duo in the NFL.
If Gardner and Reed are able to maintain their success against the most dangerous pair of receiving weapons in football, it will be tough to argue they aren’t the best cornerback duo in the league.