The Detroit Lions never threw Sauce Gardner’s way in Week 15, certainly smartly, and the Jets’ rookie cornerback is trying to act offended by it.
If the Detroit Lions had drafted quarterback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner second overall in April’s draft, which was apparently never on their radar, it would have been a nice story for him to start his NFL career with his hometown team.
But it worked out fine for Gardner, as the New York Jets took him with the fourth overall pick. He has immediately become one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and a matchup for opposing quarterbacks to generally avoid if possible.
Indeed, none of Jared Goff’s 38 pass attempts on Sunday went Gardner’s way (as the nearest defender, anyway, according to Next Gen Stats).
Sauce Gardner tried to act offended the Lions never targeted him
Gardner of course grew up a Lions fan, so facing them meant something extra to him. The Lions respected him by never throwing his direction, not that they’d have had a lot of success doing so if they had.
It’s fine for Gardner to be disappointed he had no opportunities to make an impact against the team he grew up rooting for, and the Jets also lost an important game for them. But speaking on Monday he tried to act offended the Lions smartly avoided him.
"I wasn’t targeted yesterday, not once,” Gardner said. “I don’t know what their mentality is or mindset is when they go up against us, but yesterday, I wasn’t targeted. I take that kind of personally because I actually wanted to make a bigger and a better impact on the game, especially going against my hometown team. . . . I didn’t get targeted so I didn’t get that opportunity.”"
Gardner did acknowledge the respect the Lions showed him, but he wanted to make a big play for his team.
"Definitely it is a huge sign of respect, but if I catch the ball and I get a pick-six I could put points on the board, or catch an interception and flip the field, something to get us some points,” Gardner said."
Ultimately, Gardner is disappointed the Jets lost by a field goal when he feels he could have made an impactful play or two if given the opportunity. The Lions not giving him any such opportunities was smart. Gardner surely knows that, even as he tried to say he takes it “kind of personally” he was never thrown at on Sunday.