ENGLEWOOD | Bradley Roby’s poor play against the Jets and failure to promptly call in sick the next day didn’t cost the struggling Denver Broncos cornerback his starting job.
“Right now, he is the starter, yes,” coach Vance Joseph said Wednesday.
Joseph also said he won’t be taking away Joe Woods’ play-calling duties, either, when the Broncos (2-3) host the Los Angeles Rams (5-0) this weekend.
“Joe’s the coordinator,” Joseph said. “So, he’s calling the plays.”
A day earlier, general manager John Elway was asked about Woods’ foundering defense and said on Orange and Blue 760 that “coaches, like players, have bad weeks, too, and I don’t think it was the best scheme that we had set up last week.”
He added, “There’s not a quick fix.”
Maybe not, but Joseph declared changes were forthcoming following Denver’s demoralizing 34-16 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.
“When you’re not winning football games you have to do something different, you know? How we meet, how we look at game plans, how we call games, all those things are being looked at,” Joseph said after Wednesday’s practice in a rain-snow mix, the type of weather that’s in the forecast for kickoff.
“So, when I say changes, I mean, we have to make changes to go win games. So, things are happening. I can’t share those things. But when you don’t win, you have to make some changes.”
Roby allowed three long touchdowns in the second quarter against the Jets, including a 76-yard catch and a 77-yard run.
“Roby didn’t play his best on Sunday. I mean, that’s obvious,” Joseph said. “But he played pretty good the week before. So, we have to get him back and keep coaching him. He’s ours. He’s our guy. So, we’ll get him back to playing good football.”
Asked if Roby faced any discipline for missing meetings Monday without promptly notifying the team he was sick, Joseph said, “That’s already been handled, OK? It’s been discussed in-house. It was more about communication than a total miss. But it’s been fixed and handled.”
The Broncos traded Aqib Talib to the Rams last offseason to clear salary space and room on the field for Roby, whose salary jumped from $1 million to $8.526 million this season in the fifth and final year of his rookie contract.
Roby has struggled to adjust from nickel back to starting cornerback, giving receivers too much cushion, which negates Denver’s pass rush.
Roby might have gotten a reprieve because his backups are banged up.
Tramaine Brock and Adam Jones have been hurt most of the season. Brock missed the Jets game with a strained groin and Jones pulled a hamstring Sunday and missed practice Wednesday.
Roby, who also missed a players-only meeting Monday, said he realized there was a problem when teammates called to check up on him.
“A lot of the players … reached out to me because the coach told them I didn’t even let anybody know where I was at, and I just let them know that I had already gone to the trainers,” Roby said. “I went to the doctor’s actually, as well, and I told them everything was good with me. And then they told me some of the things we discussed and you know we’re just pushing on and learning from our mistakes and moving on. You can’t dwell on the past.”
Roby, who said after the game, “I know my job is hard, I know that I’m always in man coverage without a lot of help,” said his absence had nothing to do with frustration.
“I was frustrated, obviously, for sure. But I got sick after the game,” he said, noting he was vomiting and didn’t get much sleep. “I don’t know what it was, maybe something I ate. But no excuses about on the field.”
Roby acknowledged he’s had a difficult time in his first season as a starter, and that he bombed Sunday at the Meadowlands.
“I didn’t have a good game. I didn’t perform well. I sucked, actually,” Roby said. “It’s only a few plays here and there but at corner everything is under a microscope. So, I just have to win my battles and not let the team down.”
Roby said he was eager for the Rams’ visit so he can make up for the worst game of his career.
“I want to make sure I go out there and … make plays and make up for some of the mistakes I (made to) let the team down last week,” Roby said.
Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said that while teammates try to be supportive, it’s up to Roby to pull himself out of his prolonged funk and return to the playmaker he’s been throughout his career.
“I just try to encourage him. It’s on you, though,” Harris said. “You’ve got to be a man. At cornerback, it’s 1-on-1 a lot of times. You can kind of control a lot of things on your own out there. So, you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and ask how bad do you want it?
“And if ‘Robe’ wants it bad enough, he’ll bounce back.”