The New York Giants are preparing to host the New York Jets in the highly anticipated “Snoopy Bowl.” With the opportunity to face each other during the regular season arising only every four years, both teams are fully prepared to leave it all on the line in this ultimate showdown.
The battle between Jets’ lockdown cornerback Sauce Gardner and Giants’ explosive wide receiver Jalin Hyatt promises to be a thrilling showdown that could have a significant impact on the game’s outcome.
Sauce Gardner is playing at an elite level
Gardner’s presence on the field has been nothing short of impressive since he entered the league last season. In his rookie year, he had an astounding 20 passes defensed, two interceptions, and 75 tackles. According to Next Gen Stats, Gardner allowed a mere two touchdowns and earned a remarkable -28.8 target EPA, making him one of the top-performing corners in 2022, and ultimately, earned him the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Gardner was sidelined for Gang Green’s upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles due to a concussion, but he is set to make his return against Big Blue. With 19 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown allowed this season, Gardner has already demonstrated his prowess in shutting down opposing receivers. He currently has tallied up 20 tackles, one forced fumble, and three passes defended, proving that he is a force to be reckoned with.
Gardner is not invulnerable
Gardner has had his struggles this season, however, most notably against Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb. Gardner had a crucial dropped pick-six, and Jet fans blamed him for Lamb’s season-high 11 receptions for 143 yards.
Hyatt is looking to recreate Lamb’s success and have a breakout game of his own against the dynamic corner. Hyatt brings a level of speed and explosiveness that poses a unique challenge for any defense. While his rookie campaign may be in its early stages, Hyatt has already showcased his potential as a deep-threat receiver.
His first notable play came in Week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals, where he had an incredible 58-yard catch that sparked the Giants’ comeback victory.
Jalin Hyatt’s role is expanding in the Giants’ offense
Throughout the first few weeks of the season, Hyatt’s usage on the field was questioned because he seemed to never be targeted on offense. Head Coach Brian Daboll has since recognized Hyatt’s capabilities and stressed the importance of involving him more in the offensive game plan.
In the last two weeks, Hyatt has emerged as a primary target, appearing in 71% of the snaps. With just nine receptions for 195 yards under his belt, averaging an impressive 21.7 yards per catch, Hyatt has made a significant impact on offense.
Though Hyatt has yet to find the end zone, the anticipated rivalry matchup against the Jets could provide the perfect opportunity to change that.
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A rematch from the preseason
Hyatt and Gardner have previously matched up during the preseason, and even though the Jets ultimately took the victory, their matchup seemed to catch a lot of eyes.
The Giants challenged Gardner early and targeted Hyatt on the first play of the game. Hyatt ran a stutter-go route against the second-year corner and beat Gardner with his speed. Unfortunately, Giants’ QB Tyrod Taylor’s deep pass landed out of bounds, resulting in an incompletion.
He was then targeted again, but Gardner stayed tight in his coverage and knocked the ball away for another incompletion. Hyatt is now looking to redeem himself and is excited at the opportunity to face Gardner once again.
Taylor and Hyatt have improved on their chemistry since the preseason. In Week 7 against the Commanders, Hyatt had a season-high five targets and accumulated two receptions for 75 yards. These numbers are only projected to increase as the season progresses.
Tyrod Taylor commends Hyatt’s development
Hyatt’s progress throughout the season has not gone unnoticed by Taylor. The veteran has seen Hyatt’s growing confidence and has expressed his intention to rely on him more as the season plays out.
“When you make as many plays as he’s made the past couple of weeks and just generally throughout the season, the confidence builds,” Taylor said. “Going to continue to keep leaning on him to grow as a player. He creates explosiveness in this offense.”Tyrod Taylor said according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post
As Big Blue gears up for the “Battle of New York”, Hyatt’s emergence as a key target for their offense could prove crucial to their victory on Sunday. With the chance to prove himself against Jets’ All-Pro corner Gardner, Hyatt’s confidence could only continue to grow. With his lightning-fast speed and improved chemistry with Taylor, it won’t be long before Hyatt finds the end zone and solidifies himself as a valuable asset to the Giants’ offense.