Skip to main content

What Is Jets CB Sauce Gardner's Goal in Year 3?

All-Pro Cornerback Has His Eyes on Lombardi Trophy; Becoming a More Vocal Leader


Jets CB Sauce Gardner enters Year 3 of his NFL career with an already-decorated résumé that includes two All-Pro and Pro-Bowl selections.

So what's he got in store for an encore this coming season?

"I want to win a Super Bowl," he said. "That's my team goal. I got of a lot of individual goals, but it's not all about me. I'll wait until we get a little bit closer to share those."

Gardner has been a first-team All-Pro and named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. The Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2022 led the league with 20 pass defenses as a rookie and allowed 0.4 yards per coverage snaps last season (he took nearly 600 snaps).

Since he was drafted No. 4 overall out of Cincinnati, the Jets have allowed a league best 178.9 passing yards per game. After bursting on the scene in 2022, opposing quarterbacks targeted the Detroit native 55 times last season, 31 fewer than his rookie season. He totaled 11 pass defenses, 1 forced fumble and tallied 57 tackles.

"Just keep finding ways to get better," he said of his offseason focus. "Keep making my strengths even more of strengths and turn my weaknesses into strengths. That's all it is. It's not rocket science. Just take it one step at a time."

Head coach Robert Saleh said in the past that Gardner's game will reach a new level when he starts taking the ball away, something he did not do last season. Gardner, who had 2 interceptions as a rookie, came close to picking off a couple of signal-callers last season including one that would've likely resulted in a pick-6 (Week 2 at Dallas).

Gardner spent time on the JUGS throughout the offseason program and during special teams periods with fellow CBs D.J. Reed and Michael Carter II, who will be playing their third season together.

"Continuity, especially on the back end, is so critical," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. "These guys got to know each other's strengths, weaknesses, their shortcomings, their superpowers, their kryptonite. They got to know all that. They also have to know how to communicate at the highest level and some of that communication over time becomes just a wink. It's a little hand signal. It's very subtle and when you get to that level, that's where the really special stuff lives.

"The fact that we have some continuity, that we've had guys that have been here in the system for multiple years now, it's exciting to think where they could take it."

MCII added: "We communicate so well now whether that's overtly or covertly. We know when we give each other certain looks or certain hand signals that this is what we'll be doing. We're just going to work with that to where the other team doesn't know we're doing because they don't see us do anything, but we're one step ahead and those things. I think that and the amount of trust we have in each other to do our job at a high level is really what makes us go and play at a high level."

Gardner, who has a reserved personality, has become more of a vocal leader as the wily, not-so-grizzled 23-year-old vet in the cornerbacks room (he turns 24 in August).

"I got the rookies coming in asking me for advice," he said. "I'm just that brother figure right there for them. Anything they need, I got them."

Take a look through some of the best photos from the entirety of the Jets 2024 offseason program.

Related Content