The New York Jets are surrounded by a bunch of young talent, but even the most optimistic fans probably could not predict what they got out of their first two draft picks from last year.
Gang Green selected cornerback Sauce Gardner out of Cincinnati with the fourth overall selection. Six picks later, they selected Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
The two were named the Defensive and Offensive Rookies of the Year, respectively – had it not been for the team’s running back, Breece Hall, tearing his ACL midseason, he probably would have won OROY, so it is clear that the Jets have a dominant young core.
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Just about everybody is high on the Jets. The Jets started last season 7-4 until their quarterback issues started rearing its ugly head.
The 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson was benched twice, and Joe Flacco and Mike White hardly fared any better. The Jets lost their final six games of the season, missing out on the playoffs for a 12th consecutive season.
However, seeing the young talent in the locker room, the front office went for it all and acquired the four-time MVP in Aaron Rodgers in the offseason.
The phrase “iron sharpens iron” has been a staple around Gang Green for a while now, but it literally rings true every day in practice when Gardner and Wilson line up against one another, and one of the game’s best quarterbacks ever throwing the ball in their direction.
For Gardner, there is no better practice.
“The timing when he throw the ball and the ball gets there, I don’t think too many quarterbacks have that connection with their receivers,” Gardner told Fox News Digital in a recent interview. “I feel like it’s the best practice for me to go against them two. It makes me even happier when I win, knowing I’m not just going up against Garrett, I’m going against Aaron as well, and vice versa. It’s great.”
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Gardner paired up with Buffalo Wild Wings again to feature the fittingly named “Sauce Sauce.” He even went undercover as a BWW waiter – but for the Jets, there was no hiding.
With Rodgers now under center, understandably so, the pressure is on, but Gardner and the Jets do not see it as such.
“There ain’t really no pressure. Probably from the outside, that’s probably what people think. But when it comes to us, we don’t really take it as pressure. It’s just more motivation. The vibe’s been great.”
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It certainly will be no easy task for the Jets though – they still have yet to beat the New England Patriots since 2015, and the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins were also playoff teams last year in a stacked AFC.