New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 Draft and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, established himself as one of the best cover corners in the entire NFL in just his first season. The 2022 First-Team All-Pro led the league in passes defended (20) and earned Pro Football Focus' highest coverage grade (90.0), a noticeable gap between the No. 2 cornerback on the list, fellow First-Team All-Pro Patrick Surtain II of the Denver Broncos (86.7).
However, with Aaron Rodgers , Gardner says he can find a higher level of play thanks to his new starting quarterback's depth of football insights.
"I knew he was going to get me better, and by that I was just thinking of him making those tough throws that it's going to be hard for me to intercept and break up," Gardner said about practice battles with Rodgers, via the New York Post. "But he was just telling me [Tuesday] that he is going to be able to help me out [by] telling me how teams are going to try to attack me and the things that I can work on as a cornerback. He was telling me he has the secret gems he can give me. Hearing that made me respect him even more. I wasn't expecting that, but now I'm looking forward to sitting down and watching film and telling him what we're trying to do and he can tell us what they're trying to do on offense."
In return, Gardner has been teaching Rodgers about what life will be like playing in America's largest media market, something the All-Pro duo feel they're both well-equipped to handle.
"There's no pressure," Gardner said. "When it comes to playing in New York, you just have to tell yourself, 'I'm built for this.' Me and Aaron, we just caught ourselves just telling each other, 'I'm built for this.' We had that one-on-one moment when we were out eating dinner. I was just trying to share with him my experience when it comes to playing in New York and how my mentality was to embrace the New York culture — media, fans, everything that comes with New York instead of trying to be so perfect. Everybody makes mistakes and goes through adversity."
With the trust and confidence Gardner has in Rodgers, it doesn't sound like he's envisioning the Jets to be hit with significant amount of adversity in 2023.