Houston Texans: All eyes should be on Bradley Roby against the Saints

Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans will take on the New Orleans Saints tonight but the player we need to pay attention to the most is Bradley Roby. Why? Let’s dive in.

We’ve arrived Houston Texans fans — the team’s first game of 2019 will be a reality tonight and we’re about to see what this team — who made a plethora of offseason moves — is made of as they face the New Orleans Saints.

As you know, the Saints are a Super Bowl-contender right at this moment with their counterpart — the Houston Texans — still trying to find their identity in this league.  Which Houston Texans team will stand up tonight and compete?

Hopefully, it’s one that’s even better than the one that was able to find a way to crawl out of a 0-3 hole to win a franchise-record nine straight games to finish with an 11-5 record.  Despite the competition, that’s not an easy feat and the effort to make such a mark should be treated with the utmost of respect.  But we know it won’t be as the ultimate barometer of success is if any given team is able to win the Super Bowl.

Right now, that respect is centered around the New England Patriots, who have instituted a culture of discipline, winning, team unity and a systematic approach to strategy with each game they compete in on the gridiron.  Last night’s 33-3 shellacking of the Pittsburgh Steelers goes to show that this dynasty of a football organization is far from falling by the wayside and they’ll be right there when the dust settles at the end of the season.

But as it’s business as usual with the Pats, the Houston Texans will have to deviate from that standard and be different from what they have been.

They’ve assembled a ton of talent over the past few months and the player of focus for tonight’s matchup should be Bradley Roby, the guy that will be tasked with covering the fantastic Michael Thomas, who could cause the Houston Texans trouble if he’s not stymied from breaking out.

Roby inked with the Texans this offseason to a one-year, $10 million deal that goes to show that this team feels it can get some quality production from this man.  However, they’re not willing to go long-term with him just yet.  This is similar to the one-year, $7 million pact that Tyrann Mathieu signed last season before departing to the Kansas City Chiefs on a three-year, $42 million contract.

Roby, 27, a first-round pick out of Ohio State in the 2014 draft, did not have his contract extended by the Denver Broncos and he amazingly found himself here in H-Town.

Lining up along with 35-year-old Johnathan Joseph, he is the youthful face of the cornerback’s room and will be tasked with covering Thomas tonight, a true test of his wits.

Because he wasn’t re-signed by the Broncos, they ultimately chose former Texan Kareem Jackson and signed him a three-year, $33 million deal, this opened the opportunity for the team to bring in Roby which appears as a swap for youth and potential.

Roby’s 2018 campaign was far from his best and he’s got some proving to do.  Pro Football Focus gave Roby a 59.9 defensive, 65.2 run defense, 54.6 tackling and 58.6 grade in coverage through 926 snaps back in 2018.  He only notched one interception, had nine pass breakups and quarterbacks had a 115.9 passer rating in the 83 times that he was targeted last season.

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These numbers are certainly not ones to be excited about but a fresh start with a team comes new beginnings and I’m positive Roby is out to make the absolute best of it.

PFF also gives Thomas a 27 percent matchup advantage over Roby just based off of past individual data so it’s up to him to buck the trend of probability.

We know Deshaun Watson will excel, we know DeAndre Hopkins will be around to catch some great passes and we also know that J.J. Watt is going to be sensational out on the field but we don’t know what to expect out of Roby.

That’s why it’s important that you keep an eye on him tonight and let’s hope for the best.

Next. Bill O'Brien signals that he will be calling the plays against Saints. dark

I can’t wait — let’s go Houston Texans!

Roby collected 48 tackles — four assisted, eight missed — along with 13 run stops, two forced fumbles and allowing six touchdowns last season.

For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE and ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.