The Jets Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed have top-five grades among cornerbacks who have taken at least 80% of snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Gardner's 86.1 grade ranks No. 1 and Reed's 77.7 grade ranks No. 5.
"Definitely, man," Gardner said when asked if the Jets have the best cornerback duo in the NFL. "The way that we go about the game, the way that we watch film, the way that we practice, I feel like there isn't anybody doing it like we're doing it."
Gardner leads the NFL with an 87.8 coverage grade and Reed's 80 grade ranks No. 4. The rookie corner, selected No. 4 overall out of Cincinnati, leads the NFL with 14 pass defenses. He's the second rookie since 2000 with 14 PDs and 2 interceptions through Week 9 (Ronald Darby). Among Jets rookies, he surpassed Darrelle Revis as the only player with 10+ PDs and 2 INT through Week 9.
"He is a special talent," HC Robert Saleh said last month. "What's great about him is that he is just absorbing so much information, and he knows he has a long way to go, and he knows he has a ways to get better, and he's relentless in his pursuit to get better. We got a good one, and he will continue to get better."
Since Week 4, the Jets secondary ranks No. 1 in pass defenses (34) and passer rating allowed (60.9). It's also tied for first with 9 interceptions. Reed, who signed with the Green & White in the offseason after two seasons with the Seahawks, has 7 PDs, which ranks second on the Jets. He also has 42 tackles, 1 forced fumble and a pick.
"I know Sauce gets all the fanfare, fourth overall, catchy nickname and he's doing a great job," Saleh said after Sunday's win against the Bills. "It's deserved, but D.J. is playing Pro Bowl football. If you really sit down and watch the tape and dissect what he has been doing, he's playing at an All Pro level and is every bit as deserving of the praise that Ahmad gets.
"He's kind of one of our quiet leaders, our quiet champs if you will in terms of what he does and what he brings both on and off the field, at practice and in meeting rooms. To gather all of those young guys, to be able to teach them the game as he sees it. He hasn't been getting enough love, in my opinion, but I know we love him in there."
Gardner and Reed have been a part of a secondary that's held some of the NFL's best receivers in check. Bengals wideout Ja'Marr Chase, who ranked No. 4 in the NFL in receiving yards last season, had 6 catches for 29 yards against the Jets. Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill -- the NFL's leading receiver -- and Jaylen Waddle, No. 5 in the NFL – were held to a combined 10 catches for 70 yards. Sunday, Stefon Diggs had 5 catches for 93 yards in the first half coming off three straight games with 100 yards and a touchdown. Diggs did not have a reception in the second half.