The Jets defense took a huge step forward in 2022, and now the team's leaders are receiving the recognition they deserve.
Rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner and fourth-year defensive lineman Quinnen Williams were named AP First-Team All-Pros on Friday after both of their stellar seasons. Additionally, linebacker C.J. Mosley was named Second-Team All-Pro.
Gardner is the first rookie corner to be named to the All-Pro first team in 41 years, per ESPN's Field Yates. The No. 4 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft started all 17 games for Gang Green and also earned a Pro Bowl nod after leading the NFL in pass breakups with 20. Gardner allowed just one touchdown and intercepted two passes, to go along with 75 combined tackles (51 solo) and three tackles for loss.
Williams had his best professional season, recording a career-high 12.0 sacks, 55 combined tackles (35 solo, one shy of his career-high), 12 tackles for loss, 28 QB hits, four passes defended, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery over 16 games. He also received a Pro Bowl nod for the first time in his career.
The 25-year-old out of Alabama was told about his huge achievement yesterday, and was beyond excited to hear the news.
"My wife knows how happy I am," Williams said while smiling and laughing. "That's dope bro, for sure. That's a huge, huge, huge thing bro. That is so crazy. I remember, it's just funny because earlier this year everybody kept asking me what's my goals. I tell my wife my goals every day so she can just keep me accountable and just make sure I do the right thing each and every day.
"And it was like, become a Pro-Bowler and an All-Pro. That's one of my ultimate goals."
Gardner was just as surprised and proud to hear the news, and said how big of a deal this honor means to him.
"Wow, OK. Appreciate that, man. That's a big deal to me, man," Gardner said. "That's a true blessing. You know I know that was one of my goals back then even before training camp man, so you know it's something that I pray for, you know. So I appreciate y'all for making that happen."
Mosley earned Second-Team All-Pro honors for the fifth time in his career (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) in addition to his fifth Pro Bowl nod. He made 158 combined tackles (99 solo), one interception, seven passes defended, one fumble recovery and one sack.
Alongside Gardner as the other First-Team All-Pro cornerback was Patrick Surtain II of the Denver Broncos, while the Kansas City Chiefs' Chris Jones was the other interior lineman to earn the honors with Williams. Mosley made the second-team with the Los Angeles Rams' Bobby Wagner and the New Orleans Saints' Demario Davis.