Skip to main content

Jets CB Sauce Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson Among ESPN Rookie of the Year Candidates

Bill Barnwell Also Lists Robert Saleh as Coach of the Year Candidate


At roughly the midway point of the 2022 NFL season, ESPN writer Bill Barnwell has Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner as the No. 1 Defensive Rookie of the Year and wide receiver Garrett Wilson as the No. 2 Offensive Rookie of the Year. He even gives a nod to Robert Saleh, the head coach of the Jets, putting him at No. 3 in the Coach of the Year sweepstakes.

"Maybe it's recency bias, but I find it impossible to keep Gardner out of the top spot," Barnwell wrote. "Since a slow start to the season, the Jets have been wildly impressive on defense. While part of that owes to a series of games against backup quarterbacks, you obviously can't make that same claim after seeing what Robert Saleh's team did to the Bills on Sunday. Buffalo mustered just 17 points on 9 drives, with the Jets forcing him into 2 interceptions.

"Gardner gave up a big play early in the game to Stefon Diggs, but the rookie corner lured Josh Allen into a hole shot that Allen immediately regretted. Gardner's second interception of the season set up the Jets with a short field, which turned into a crucial second touchdown."

Wilson led the Jets receivers on Sunday with 8 catches for 92 yards. The Ohio State product leads the Green & White with 42 receptions and 521 yards. His 2 receiving touchdowns are tied for second on the team.

"Wilson appears to be heating up," Barnwell wrote. "After his incredible game in the comeback victory over the Browns in Week 2, he went quiet for a few weeks before turning back on over the past two weeks. The No. 10 overall pick had 6 catches for 115 yards against the Patriots. Over the past two weeks, the only wideouts who have averaged more yards per route run than Wilson are superstars Tyreek Hill. A.J. Brown, Diggs, Jaylen Waddle and Cooper Kupp.

"There aren't many wide receivers who have Wilson's footwork and change of direction in cramped quarters."