Good morning, Broncos Country!
The No Fly Zone is not dead.
And contrary to some opinions, it didn’t fly off to the L.A. Rams either.
In fact, Bradley Roby is getting a little tired of hearing all that as he’s set to take over as a starter for Aqib Talib.
Bradley Roby just got doing a media session that was mainly focused on the loss of Aqib Talib and if the No Fly Zone still exists. As he walked out of the room he said, “No more Talib questions”. I’d say he's ready to take the step into the starter role he’s been waiting to take.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) May 2, 2018
“It’s still a ‘No Fly Zone,’” Roby said. “We started that Super Bowl year, and we had a year of that. I don’t think it’s been seen in a league by a defense in the last 30-plus years.”
Coined by Chris Harris Jr. in 2015 for Denver’s stingy secondary, “No Fly Zone” by name deserves to stay in the Mile High City.
Even if the names in it have changed.
With Harris Jr. now the uncontested No. 1 cornerback, Roby will step in to fill the No. 2 role as CHJ’s counterpart while Justin Simmons will get his second year starting in the NFZ alongside veteran safety Darian Stewart. Will Parks and free agent pickup Su’a Cravens will mostly play the role of dimebackers.
Getting ready to start his fifth year with the Broncos, Roby - who has been a major contributor on this defense even as a rookie - is poised to finally become a true starter.
But the change in preparation from last season to this season won’t be much different than his usual plan of “just working harder.”
“Every year in the league you have to keep working hard. Not one year do I think, ‘Oh I got it, I’m good now. Just do the same thing that you want to do.’ If you do the same things every year then somebody’s going to come up and pass you,” Roby said. “That’s just the nature of the league. Every year I’m trying to work harder and trying to find new ways I can get better, get my body better, get my technique better.”
Roby isn’t new to starting. Having started four games each of the past three seasons (and two as a rookie) while Talib was out with injury or suspension, this coming season he’ll be the planned starter from Day One, and he insists it’s really no different.
“The mindset doesn’t really change. I’ve started in plenty of games since I’ve been here,” he said, adding that the only difference is needing to play consistently good as the starter. “Just the mentality of being consistent every snap ... line up the same way, playing the right techniques consistently. That’s really all it is.”
And even though the Broncos drafted a promising cornerback in the third round of the draft, Roby says there’s no more pressure to perform well than already exists.
“I just want to be better than I was last year. I see myself as a guy who goes out there, balls hard, makes a lot of turnovers. That’s what I’ve always been my whole life. I’m not really competing with anyone,” he said. “Every year in the league you have to get better and better and better. There are always guys coming up, trying to take your spot. It’s not really pressure on that end, you just want to be the best you.”
But if Roby isn’t feeling pressure as a starter, he’s definitely happy to know opposing quarterbacks should be feeling more pressure this season, thanks to the first-round pick of edge rusher Bradley Chubb.
“Pressure is definitely going to help because the quarterback can’t just sit and wait for guys to get open,” Roby said, hinting that better offensive play this season will be huge as well. “Playing with a lead also helps because it makes the offense more frantic, it makes them take more chances. When you’re down and you turn the ball over a lot, teams play safe and just run the ball. I think this year we’ll have a lot more turnovers than we did last year.”
To get a jumpstart on that, Roby joined Harris Jr. in Dallas this offseason for some workouts with Harris Jr’s trainer, a “DB specific guy.” Parks and Brendan Langley joined the crew too.
“I think it’s very valuable. Any time you can get guys on the same team, working in the off-season, that itself is good for the chemistry,” Roby said. “Everything on that field is about that connection and being able to relate to guys off the field. I think that is going to translate.”
The most important factor for the “No Fly Zone” this season, Roby says, is not so much which players are on “it” at any particular play on the field but rather the mentality that just goes with being in the NFZ.
“It’s a standard. If you go out there and you have certain expectation as to how you should play and how everyone with you should play, then you’re going to play to that expectation,” Roby said. “If you go out there, ‘oh I’m just going to do my job. Let me just not give up anything,’ then you’re going to play soft, you’re going to play timid, you’re not going to be as good.”
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