The NFL is already shining the spotlight on New York Jets’ first-round cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
At Cincinnati, Gardner was a true shutdown defensive back with zero touchdowns allowed during his collegiate tenure. He also brings the confidence and bravado that often comes with being a superstar athlete. Add in the catchy nickname and you have a marketing gold mine.
You should also get a few exciting one-on-one matchups out of Gardner this fall and a specific head-to-head was highlighted as a top 5 CB-WR showdown in 2022.
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Sweet Revenge With a Side of Sauce
On a segment of NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access,” former pro wide receiver James Jones broke down the CB-WR matchups he cannot wait to watch this season and Gardner made the list, ranking second overall.
His opponent? New Miami Dolphins playmaker Tyreek Hill.
Like an onion, this matchup has layers, and it’s a great selection from Jones. After choosing Miami over the Jets, Hill further enraged fans with a disrespectful comment.
“Who? The Jets?” Hill responded when asked if he was close to signing in New York before coming to terms with the Dolphins. “Nah man.”
How sweet would it be for Gang Green nation if Gardner grounded Hill when the two bitter rivals face off in 2022? A Hawaiian barbeque blend might do the trick if revenge is the entrée.
“Sauce Gardner!” Jones hyped. “Tie your cleats up tight, loosen them hamstrings up really good, because you are going to have to see this man right here Tyreek Hill. We all know he’s fast but he is in and out of his breaks, he is explosive out of his cuts — listen son, a lot of film study, you better get ready for this one — but I’m excited to see you go battle and get after this one right here, and have a chance to get your hands on Tyreek Hill.”
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Will This Dream Come to Fruition?
Unfortunately, there is a slight chance that we don’t even see Gardner vs. Hill all that often. With another number one cornerback talent in D.J. Reed Jr. across from the rookie, the Jets aren’t expected to match.
Head coach Robert Saleh didn’t move his cornerbacks off their respective sides in 2021 and the pairing was more lopsided last year than it is expected to be now. Reed also excels when positioned on the right flank, with much more dominant numbers at RCB according to Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor.
That might leave it up to Miami to choose which CB Hill goes up against. Of course, the Jets could also decide to deploy zone coverage against the speedy Dolphins receiving corps, especially if the ex-Kansas City Chiefs superstar lines up in the slot.
Having said all that, this overall matchup between the NYJ secondary and the Fins pass-catchers should be very fun to watch. The headliners might be Gardner and Hill but when you throw in Reed, Jaylen Waddle, Michael Carter II and Mike Gesicki among others, it’s time to heat up the popcorn and enjoy. Extra butter — well, you should know the rest by now.