The Commanders defense had an excellent day against the Arizona Cardinals. But even more, the defensive line was incredible. Each of Washington’s first-round picks, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Montez Sweat, had a handful of plays that showcased why this unit can take over a game at any given moment.
Here are some of Montez Sweat’s most impactful plays against the Cardinals and how he won the rep.
The Washington Commanders generated a tackle for loss on this 2nd down screen due to an excellent effort and motor by the defensive line. Initially, linebacker Cody Barton is engaged with Cardinals right tackle Paris Johnson Jr.; however, he cannot disengage from Johnson yet still finds a way to force running back James Connor back inside to Barton’s help. At that point, all four defensive linemen are there to support and close on Connor. Their motor and effort to prevent a positive gain on this play where there was open field set the tone early on in the game for how they would play from start to finish.
Sweat did an excellent job on this third and seven, effectively using a power rush to get a half-sack. Helped by good coverage behind him, he begins with a long arm to generate an initial push in the backfield. However, Sweat showcases an effective rush plan by bringing out a secondary move from his toolbox to finish the play by pulling down/chopping the outside hand of Paris Johnson to get him off balance and earn the sack.
Sweat closes this drive out with a strip sack on 3rd and 15. He uses a good burst to close the space and establish a half-man relationship with D.J. Humphries on the edge. At that point, you see Sweat showing his play strength and good use of hands to dip under Humphries’ outside shoulder to turn the corner by getting his hips in position to align with Josh Dobbs. In the end, you see his ability to generate a last-second burst in addition to his arm length to finish the rep and earn the strip sack on Dobbs, turning the tide for the Commanders in this game.
Sweat forces this tackle for loss on the next play following hiss strip-sack. To start, though, Sweat does an excellent job as a backside contain man against the run on this play, staying in position in case Conner does bounce the run back toward him. But the defensive line on the playside and the second-level linebackers do a great job closing the gaps up front, forcing Conner to find another lane. Sweat is able to generate a tackle for loss primarily because of his discipline, but secondarily due to his arm length to wrap up and bring Conner down.
Jonathan Allen sacked Dobbs on the last drive on this second and eight. However, Sweat was able to get in the backfield as well off of the edge. Sweat uses his lateral quickness to bait Humphries into shooting his hands too early, which forces him to waste bend and become unbalanced when Sweat swipes and dips under his hands. If Allen didn’t get the sack, Sweat was there to finish the play.