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Ranking all NFL CB trios: Do Eagles or NY Jets rank No. 1?

NY Jets, CB Trio, Eagles, Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Michael Carter II
New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Sauce Gardner, Darius Slay, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

Where do New York Jets cornerbacks Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter II rank as a trio?

The New York Jets have a phenomenal cornerback trio in Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter II. Is it the NFL’s best?

I set out to answer that question.

Using data from Pro Football Focus, I compiled the cumulative statistics of every team’s primary cornerback trio (which I classified as the three cornerbacks who have played the most coverage snaps for each team).

Here are the results.

NFL CB Trio Rankings, NY Jets, Sauce Gardner, 2022

New York’s trio ranks as one of the league’s best in every category I included in the table above:

  • Yards per cover snap: 0.729 (1st)
  • Yards per target: 5.69 (2nd)
  • Completion rate: 55.7% (3rd)
  • Touchdowns: 2 (4th)
  • Interceptions: 5 (2nd)
  • TD/INT margin: -3 (2nd)
  • Penalties: 4 (5th)

The only trio that can measure up with the Jets’ trio across the board is the Philadelphia Eagles’ lineup of Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Avonte Maddox.

Across the following five statistics – yards per cover snap, yards per target, completion rate, TD/INT margin, and penalties – the Jets’ and Eagles’ trios each recorded an average ranking of 2.6, which tied them for the best in the league. New York ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, and 5th (averages out to 2.6), while Philadelphia ranked 3rd, 3rd, 1st, 1st, and 5th (averages out to 2.6).

Denver’s trio is similarly dominant when it comes to preventing yardage, but the Broncos’ underwhelming numbers with interceptions (1) and penalties (10) make it tough to put them on the same pedestal as New York and Philly.

So, yes, the data seems to back it up – the Jets’ cornerback trio is one of the best in the league, if not the best. Take your pick between the Jets and the Eagles. Either trio can lay a claim to the crown.

If I were to make a pitch as to why New York’s trio deserves the title over Philly’s, I would point to strength-of-schedule. Based on Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, the Jets’ defense has faced the NFL’s third-hardest schedule of opposing offenses while the Eagles’ defense has faced the NFL’s fourth-easiest schedule.

Eight games remain for the Jets’ corners to cement their status as the best trio in football.

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