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NFL: Washington Commanders at Houston Texans

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Player Spotlight: Montez Sweat pass-rush motor took over vs. Houston

The defensive line caused havoc all day against the Houston Texans in its 1-on-1s and line games. This is a film session of how Sweat became a beneficiary of good, coordinated rushes among the defensive line.

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Montez Sweat has been a havoc wreaker at times as a pass rusher. His length, power, explosiveness, and closing speed caused opposing offensive tackles and the interior offensive line several issues this year. Nothing changed during the Houston Texans matchup, as Sweat accumulated two sacks and should have gotten a third sack as well.

Let’s look into how Sweat’s motor and pursuit ability helped him disrupt the Texans’ pass game.

Context: Second Quarter - 3rd and 14 at Hoston 21, Washington leads 14-0.

The Texans align in an Empty look, with their tight end and running back aligned close to the offensive line. Washington aligns its pass rushers up in the B and C gaps, leaving both A-gaps uncovered. At the snap, Houston’s tight end and running back chips Washington edge rushers Montez Sweat and James Smith-Williams, both involved in a tackle-end stunt with DTs Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Houston successfully picks up the stunt. However, Allen occupies Texans tackle Laremy Tunsil long enough to allow Sweat to loop back around the edge and get in pursuit mode to close in on the sack.

Context: Third Quarter - 3rd and four at Washington’s 20, Washington leads 20-0.

While Washington comes out in nearly the same alignment from Sweat’s first sack, the Texans now show its 11 personnel with their running back in the backfield and tight end in-line. Washington utilizes a four-man line game that frees up Sweat. At the snap, Allen occupies the Texans’ left guard and tackle on his twist, allowing Sweat to have a clear path to their center Scott Quessenberry. On the other side, Payne and Smith-Williams twist at the snap creating a 1-on-1 situation for Payne on the edge. Both Payne and Allen are now occupying both tackles. Smith-Williams crashes into the center, and Texans right guard A.J. Cann does not account for a looping Sweat, who now has a clear path to the quarterback. Sweat’s motor and pursuit ability took over as he closed in on his second sack.

Context: Second Quarter - 3rd and ten at Hoston 21, Washington leads 20-3.

Sweat’s 41 pressures this season rank 11th among players with at least 300 snaps, and now he can capitalize and finish the pressure with sacks. You can watch my full defensive film breakdown of the Commanders defensive outing below.

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