Linebacker Von Miller
The Oakland Raiders are nearing their battle with division rival the Denver Broncos, which will take place this Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The matchup will be the first encounter between the teams this season, and will decide who gains sole possession of the AFC West. The Raiders and Broncos are both 6-2 through the first half of the season, and will kick off the second half on Sunday Night Football. Heading into the bout, members of the Broncos have shared their thoughts on the game.
Let's take a look at what the opponents are saying.
**Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Kubiak praised the Raiders offensive line for what it's been able to accomplish this season.
"I think [Raiders offensive coordinator] Billy [Musgrave] has done a great job with him and [offensive line coach] Mike Tice has protected him very well. Anytime you see a guy throwing it as much as they've thrown it, and yet how well he's protecting the football, and I think he's only been sacked nine times, that tells you about his growth right there. And understanding what's going on and keeping his team in good positions, so very impressed. Obviously, Derek is playing as good as anybody in football right now."
He talked about what he sees from defensive end Khalil Mack and fellow pass rusher Bruce Irvin.
"No, I see the same guy. Obviously, he got after us last year. We really struggled with him. He's a great player. He's a great effort player. They're very balanced on their edges now, getting [Bruce] Irvin on the other side, so very, very difficult to deal with. He played extremely well last week."
Kubiak elaborated on how the offensive line has been able to keep quarterback Derek Carr protected.
"They're probably the biggest group we'll play, so very big group, strong. I was with him [Osemele] in Baltimore. He's a great kid. Tell him I said, 'Hello.' Really playing well. Like I said, as much as Derek has thrown the ball, he's only been down nine times, so that tells you how well they're playing. They've got three really good backs, playing them all and probably as balanced of an offensive football team as you'll find right now – run and pass. They can beat you both ways and it always starts up front. Mike's a hell of a coach and does a great job."
He discussed what challenges wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper present to the defense.
"Balance. That's the key. It's not like the ball is going to one guy. It's very balanced in what's going on. Billy plays them both all over the place, so they're moving around. That's a credit to them being smart players and making it very difficult on a lot of people because of their versatility, and like I said, the fact that the ball is being spread out evenly."
Linebacker Von Miller
The reigning Super Bowl MVP shared his thoughts on what makes Mack a dominant force.
"Yeah, he's a great player. I haven't really been paying a ton of attention to him, but whenever I do see him on the film, he's making plays. He's a great player, one of the elite linebackers in this league. He had five sacks in one half. That just speaks to the volume of the type of player that everyone know he can be."
He broke down the Raiders o-line and stated that they've been one of the best offensive lines in the league.
"They're solid. I think they're the second highest rated offensive line in the league after the Dallas Cowboys. They probably have the biggest O-line in the National Football League, that's for sure. They're probably one of the meanest, toughest O-line too with K.O. [Kelechi Osemele] and Rodney Hudson on the inside. Definitely a solid offensive line. I think they gave up the second fewest sacks in the National Football League. They're protecting him really well. They're having a whole lot of success up front."
Miller commended Carr for his play this season and noted that he's not surprised at what he's accomplished.
"Everything that he's doing is really not a surprise to me. He's had glimpses. He's had little windows of greatness and he's made a lot of plays. All the success that he's having this season is really not a surprise to me. I've seen it. I've seen it in him. I've seen the type of quarterback that he can be. He's coming out and having a whole lot of success and it's really not a surprise. That's what Oakland drafted to develop into, the type of quarterback that he is. Now I feel like there's still a whole lot more that he can do, but he's definitely great right now."
**Safety T.J. Ward
Ward expressed that he isn't a fan of the Raiders.
"We never liked the Raiders. We just don't like them. You ever not like someone and you don't know why? We just don't like them."
He also shared how he feels about the Cooper and Crabtree.
"I feel like they have two good receivers. I don't feel like they have two elite receivers."
Linebacker Demarcus Ware
Ware talked about what makes Sunday's matchup significant and that it should be a physical battle.
"Usually what's at stake is what makes that game important… just playing against the Raiders is always brutal. They like to run the ball, we like to stop the run, that grit game that you've got to get into, which makes it more of that rivalry game."
He acknowledged what it will be like facing the Raiders stout offensive line.
"Usually you have five offensive linemen, but they have six. They'll bring a guy in, the majority of the time, sometimes he'll go out for routes and keep you honest. They'll keep, instead of putting a tight end in the game, they'll put a tackle in the game to have a six-man protection deal. You've got a guy like Carr who gets of the ball pretty fast… he can also string plays out, he can run. A lot of people don't know that, he ran at least a 4.6, from my recollection, in the combine. He's a fast quarterback, an elusive guy."