Miller 'on a tear' as Del Rio prepares**
When Raiders quarterback Derek Carr watches tape of the Broncos' win over San Diego, he might see a play similar to one he experienced against Denver in Week 5 when Von Miller stripped the ball from his hands and recovered it in one fell swoop.
A frame-by-frame look at OLB Von Miller's forced fumble and fumble recovery against the Chargers. (photos by Eric Bakke)
On Sunday, Miller ripped the ball from running back Melvin Gordon's hands, as part of a banner day in which he had two sacks to go with his one-man takeaway.
"He's on a tear," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. "For his entire time in the league, he's been relentless after the quarterback, disruptive in the backfield — Von's a terrific player."
With that in mind, Del Rio knows Carr and the rest of the offense will have to be extremely aware of Miller.
"You have to know where he is, and we have to make sure he gets plenty of attention and when he does get back there, you've got to protect the football, because he'll take it from you," Del Rio said.
Miller's skills are just one part of why the defense has been excelling at league-leading levels, but if you ask safety Charles Woodson, that pass rush is why the group is so good.
"Any defense that can get after the quarterback I think has the makings of a good defense," Woodson said. "I think if your front seven is an attacking style or your front seven's got some guys that can get off the edge or get up the middle and you've got flowing linebackers — really the rest of it takes care of itself. Your secondary, you need players back there, but it's all about the front seven, and they have that on that team as far as defense is concerned.
"They've got the elements of great pass rushing and interior, and also the linebackers. You've got that front seven together, man, you're well on your way to being a good defense."
As his star still shines, Woodson appreciates longevity
In his 18th year in the NFL, safety Charles Woodson has maintained a level of skill and health that few do, and in spite of the mileage he's racked up in 250 career games, Woodson has been a key cog in the Raiders defense.
"I guess I attribute it to repetition," Woodson said, reflecting on how he's been able to play so well for so long. "I've been in the game a long time and the game changes a little bit, but not to where you can't go out there and pretty much do what you've always done."
According to Pro Football Focus, Woodson has been the safety with the most coverage snaps without allowing a catch in the past four weeks. He's also had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, and he hasn't allowed a touchdown yet this season.
As the Raiders have improved in the standings, Woodson has received more attention for his performance, and with that, he's come to understand how extraordinary it is to do it at 39 years old.
Take a look at photos from the last time the Broncos played the Raiders, during week five in Oakland.
"I think that the more that I hear about it, the more that I read about it, you know, you kind of reflect on the history of the game," Woodson said, "and you look at the average of how long guys last in the league and you look at your own situation, and it's kind of crazy, I guess, to be here 18 years in, still rolling."
For Del Rio, who spent the last two years watching Woodson from the other side of the field as the Broncos defensive coordinator, Woodson's ability stems from his dedication combined with his athleticism.
"He's one of those guys who's first in the building and the last to leave, and he's just a relentless worker," Del Rio said. "He's just been amazing. It's just incredible what he's been able to do. [It's] just a credit to the kind of athlete he is and the competitive spirit he has, and it's just been amazing to watch him work so hard every day to be in position to continue to compete."