NFL News & Analysis

New York Jets CB Sauce Gardner is living up to the hype

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) celebrates following a play during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

• A top-graded corner: Gardner's 82.9 coverage grade ranks third among the 142 cornerbacks who have played at least 50 snaps in coverage so far. 

• Stingy in coverage: He has allowed just 17 receptions on 40 targets in coverage this season.

• Nobody better at forcing incompletions: Gardner's 10 forced incompletions are the most in the NFL through seven weeks.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The current favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has taken the NFL by storm, looking anything but a rookie through the first seven weeks of the season. 

Heading into Week 8, Gardner's 82.9 coverage grade ranks third among the 142 cornerbacks who have played at least 50 snaps in coverage. He has improved as the year has gone on, too, with his two best single-game coverage grades coming in the past two weeks.

Sauce Gardner: Coverage statistics in 2022
Week   Opp Grade Tgts./Rec. Yards PBU Passer rating
1 vs. Ravens 72.7 3/1 8 1 42.4
2 @ Browns 50.9 5/4 33 0 133.8
3 vs. Bengals 70.6 4/2 51 2 95.8
4 @ Steelers 73.8 7/2 9 1 39.6
5 vs. Dolphins 56.6 5/ 26 0 34.2
6 @ Packers 83.3 6/1 8 3 39.6
7 @ Broncos 90.2 10/4 16 3 47.9
FINC= forced incompletions

Despite being targeted 40 times — tied for 12th-most among cornerbacks so far this season — the Cincinnati product has given up just 17 receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown. 

To put that in context, not only is that the fewest yards allowed by any cornerback who has seen 35 or more targets, but he is also one of just three cornerbacks who have allowed fewer than 200 yards on that target volume.

He leads the NFL with 10 forced incompletions, and his 25.0% forced incompletion rate is the best mark in the NFL among players with 35-plus targets. So, while he has just one interception as a rookie, he has been more than capable of making plays on the back end.

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