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Jets CB Look Ahead | 'Sauce & the D.J.' Heads to Year 2 After Smashing '22 Debut

Gardner and Reed Led the Kind of Corner Play Green & White Fans Enjoyed During Darrelle Revis' Heyday

Table inside Article
Jets Player Exp in '23 GP-GS-DNP-IA D-ST-Total Snaps
Sauce Gardner 2nd 17-17-0-0 1115-92—1207
D.J. Reed 6th 17-17-0-0 1136-23—1159
Michael Carter II 3rd 17-6-0-0 732-40—772
Justin Hardee 7th 17-0-0-0 0-367—367
Brandin Echols 3rd 13-0-0-3 69-224—293
Bryce Hall 4th 5-0-0-12 15-58—73

Finished on Injured Reserve: Echols

Finished on Practice Squad: Craig James, Jimmy Moreland

Signed Reserve/Future Contract: James, Moreland



'23: Sauce and the D.J. Part II
Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and D.J. Reed arrived from different ends of the NFL's acquisition spectrum and proceeded to meet in the middle and burn brightly as the Jets pass defense hadn't done since the heyday of Darrelle Revis. Gardner, the fourth pick of the draft, has already received a Pro Bowl nod, an AP All-Pro first-team berth and PFWA Rookie of the Year honors, with AP's Defensive DROY award not yet presented. Reed, signed as an unrestricted free agent, took a back seat only in number of awards but teamed with Sauce to form a superb CB tagteam combo week in and week out.

"Sauce is the ultimate strainer, him and D.J.," HC Robert Saleh said before the Vikings game. "They strain and they play very, very hard. ... I'll put our guys up against anybody."

Gardner, said GM Joe Douglas, whose personnel teams brought both to the Jets in the spring, said of Sauce, "He's the real deal. There's nothing fake about his confidence, his toughness, his anything. He's the genuine article, and I feel like we have quite a few guys on the team that are wired that way. And Sauce is definitely one of them."

And they'll be back for a second annual engagement for the '23 season, along with nickel Michael Carter II. The Jets' CB position has no players who can become unrestricted or restricted free agents in March.

'22: Quick Look Back
Gardner was precocious yet polished in posting his NFL-best 20 pass defenses that included four PDs at Seattle, back-to-back three-PD games, and his first two pro interceptions in the home wins over Miami and Buffalo. Reed joined in the productivity with 12 PDs and a pick, and the dynamic corner duo led the charge in limiting the receiving yardage for top WRs Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. Gardner and Reed were also always available as they both started all 17 games and put in more than 1,100 defensive snaps each.

Michael Carter II also missed no practice time and played in every game as an active nickel corner (eight PDs, two INTs). Echols saw time, much of it on special teams until his late quad injury ended his season early. Bryce Hall was inactive for 12 consecutive games and saw limited action in the other five after 17 starts last season.

The Jets came in third in the NFL in passing yards allowed, their best finish since placing second in 2012. Opponents' 80.5 passer rating was second-lowest in the league. The 38 completions of 20-plus yards was the Jets' fewest allowed since 2009 and second-fewest in the league in '22. All great omens for next season.

CB Trivia
Gardner was a double threat in the areas of pass defenses and tackles. To his league-leading 20 PDs, Sauce added 75 tackles, joining Marcus Trufant (2002 Seahawks) as only the second rookie DB since 2000 to record 20-plus PDs and 70-plus tackles in a season.

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