Less than a month ago, Von Miller and the Denver Broncos once again demonstrated that defense does indeed win championships.
Miller was dominant in Denver's 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, earning Most Valuable Player honors at game's end, and showcasing the value of players who can get to, and take down, the quarterback.
Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio is very familiar with Miller as he served as the defensive coordinator for the Broncos from 2012-14 – a span where Miller recorded 37.5 sacks.
Miller is no doubt one of the elite pass rushers in the game, as is Khalil Mack – he demonstrated as much in 2015 – but Del Rio believes they're two unique players who approach their craft in different ways.
"Both different I think, but both dynamic off the edge," Del Rio said when asked about the pair. "I think Von, everybody got to see Von a few weeks ago when he dominated the Super Bowl and won MVP. He's a special talent."
He continued, "For us, Khalil, we're really happy we have Khalil. A little different body type. Khalil is closer to 270, probably 20, 25 pounds more than Von, so he's more of a power player. Also has the ability to bend and also has an ability to impact and get after quarterbacks and impact the game."
As far as similarities go though, there are definitely a few between the two First-Team All-Pros.
Both are versatile in where they can line up on a defensive front, and the pair each enjoyed a dramatic increase in their sack numbers in their second seasons; however, Del Rio knows that each is set up to thrive in their current situation.
"We're happy we have Khalil," said Del Rio. "I know Denver is happy they have Von."
Mack was dominant in 2015; he finished the season with 15 sacks, earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and became the first player in league history to be named a First-Team All-Pro at two positions in the same season.
So what's next for the University of Buffalo-product?
Del Rio thinks it's simple – just continue to improve.
"The key is to really apply yourself to continue to develop your skills, to learn all the idiosyncrasies of pass rush and what it means," Del Rio said. "The different angles, the different techniques – to get yourself in great shape so you can sustain the demands of a season and to continue doing that. I think there is growth ahead of him and we look forward to getting more out of year three than we got in year two."