Tale of the Tape: Myths About Bradley Roby’s Wisconsin Game


Sep 28, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (4) gets tackled by Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Bradley Roby (1) during the second quarter at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll let you make this determination on your own, but I’ll admit first and foremost that I was duped.

I had heard Bradley Roby’s tape against Wisconsin was terrible. I looked at the stats for Green Bay Packers draft pick and former Wisconsin star receiver Jared Abbrederis.

It looked bad. I simply couldn’t watch. I had to take the analysts at their word.

This game had to be the worst of Bradley Roby’s career…right?

I got up the courage to actually…gasp…watch the game video, courtesy of the great folks at Draft Breakdown.

I’ll let you take a look at the game tape before we analyze it bit by bit, but see for yourself:

The first 1:30 or so is actually really good. The first two plays you see are a really nice PBU and a TFL. Obviously there’s a lot of time left and room for mistakes, and on the third play of that particular video, Roby gets sloppy with his hips and allows Abbrederis an easy deep out for a first down.

Now watch from 1:11-1:30. This is a touchdown grab by Abbrederis, and a deep ball at that. The stat sheet is going to show us that Abbrederis burned Roby for a deep ball touchdown, but you look at the play from multiple angles and you’ll see that’s not the case.

While you can’t ignore the fact that Roby gave up a touchdown in this particular instance, what do you see in the coverage? Roby is physical at the line, step for step with Abbrederis, right in his hip pocket. He flips his hips as the ball is approaching and has near-perfect position on the Wisconsin receiver.

But not perfect enough.

Roby swats at the ball a split-second early, Abbrederis makes an NFL receiver catch, and the Wisconsin QB actually makes one of the best throws of his life here. This is a case where perfect offense simply won out over really good defense. I don’t fault Roby much for that play, and I’m not trying to make excuses for him, just letting you know how I see it.

The very next play in the video is a busted zone coverage. Roby bumps Abbrederis five yards or so off the line of scrimmage, and then lets him go, presumably to a linebacker or safety who is clearly not in position. Abbrederis cashes in.

Is that one on Roby? That would be a question for him or his coaches but it appeared as though he was leaving Abbrederis to a safety in zone coverage.

For the next couple of minutes, you’ll see Roby make a couple of nice plays in coverage, get beat over the middle one time, and give up a catch playing what looks like 10-12 yards off the line against Abbrederis, who gets an easy quick pass out to him.

Slightly after the 4:00 mark, you’ll see Roby bite on an out route that turns into a deep route, and he actually recovers pretty well and despite the fact that the pass is underthrown, Roby doesn’t turn his head quick enough and Abbrederis makes a really tough, acrobatic catch.

Based on the way people have talked about this game. Would you know this happened?

Boy I sure wouldn’t have. Roby is giving cushion here but does a phenomenal job of reading the quarterback’s eyes.

Up next, you’ll see Roby’s pass interference penalty. He didn’t need to, but he grabs the left shoulder of Abbrederis and in real-time, this looks like a weak call but when you see it slowed down a bit, you can see that Roby clearly pulls Abbrederis’ shoulder back a bit, and that’s going to probably be called in the pros 9 times out of 10. It’s an unnecessary penalty but I think Roby had good enough position that he could have jarred the ball away regardless if he had interfered with the play.

For fun, here’s Bradley Roby smashing new Patriots running back James White.

At 7:22, Roby gets close to picking off his 2nd pass of the game.

At 7:54, Abbrederis gets another pretty big play off of blown coverage by the safety in zone coverage.

At 8:11, Roby gets his hands on the ball for a third time, this time off a tipped ball.

Bottom Line

This was a game where Jared Abbrederis certainly had his, and at the expense of Bradley Roby. Roby was caught out of position a few times in this game and Abbrederis was also able to beat him deep twice and make two phenomenal catches, one that could have easily gone either way.

However, what we’ve been led to believe is that this was the worst game of Roby’s life, and while I’m known as an eternal optimist I’m also not blind or unwilling to admit the truth. Roby, at times in this game, was toasted by Abbrederis and got sloppy in his technique at times. But throughout this game, you can see the Broncos’ first round pick show flashes of why he was considered by many a top 10 talent. He shows his instincts and ball skills throughout. When he plays bump and run coverage with Abbrederis, he rarely loses, and I think that’s really important to note.

Roby did a pretty good job in this game in the red zone as well, blanketing Abbrederis in that area of the field. He also got his hands on the ball three times and made some really nice tackles, one for a loss.

This certainly wasn’t the most flawless game of Roby’s career, and likely is one that he’s dreaded re-living at times, but in my opinion after watching it a couple times it wasn’t nearly as bad as some in the media portrayed it. A lot of Abbrederis’ big plays came from a lack of safety help in zone coverage and he also made some ridiculous acrobatic grabs.

This game could be indicative of Roby’s rookie season, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for a young DB. I think there will be times as a rookie that he gets burned, and there will be times when he looks great and gets his hands on the ball. There will be times when he sticks his shoulder out there for a tackle and nearly whiffs, and there will be times when he explodes into the backfield and makes a great play.

It’s the life of a first round pick in the NFL but when you look at the positives of it, I hope you’ll agree with me in seeing that this isn’t as bad of a game for Roby as we’ve been led on.