If Montez Sweat is feeling pressure to create pressure, he's not showing it

If Sweat feels pressure to create pressure, he's not showing it originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The advancement of advanced stats has made evaluating NFL players more nuanced than ever, yet there are still baseline numbers that each position on the field is measured by, whether they tell the whole story or not.

For pass rushers like Montez Sweat, the column people immediately eyeball, of course, is the sack column. Right now, a glaring zero resides there for Sweat. That's why, despite believing that his 2022 is off to a positive start — an opinion that Ron Rivera also holds — Sweat understands why there's an outside desire for him to produce more.

"You try not to focus on that too much," Sweat said Wednesday about his lack of quarterback takedowns. "It matters. I know that's what everybody looks at. Just got to keep going, hopefully they'll come, sooner or later."

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Before Sweat's time with reporters, Rivera mentioned in his press conference that he thinks that opponents are making a "concerted effort" to limit the former first-rounder.

This past Sunday, the Eagles mostly relied on their excellent tackles to engulf Sweat, but at Detroit in Week 2, the Lions did mix up their approach by throwing double teams at him as well as chips from tight ends.

Sweat, however, wasn't interested in giving life to the notion that he's a target when he was presented with it at his locker.

"Excuses are like ass—, everybody's got them," he said. "You just got to keep on going regardless of the attention. I'm sure it's not going to stop."

Sweat has the benefit of lining up alongside Daron Payne, who's been consistently dominant this year, and Jonathan Allen, who went to the Pro Bowl in 2021. Rivera credited Sweat Wednesday with aiding those two interior threats in their own pursuits up front.

Opposite of Sweat, though, is where there's a deficiency, since Chase Young remains on the PUP list and rotational rushers like Efe Obada, Shaka Toney and others are filling in for him. With no true, established edge option across from Sweat, offenses in theory can devote extra resources to his side.

But like Sweat noted, Washington's future foes won't be shy with that strategy if they so choose. Young must be absent for at least one more contest and, when he does return, there might be a significant acclimation period for him after his torn ACL.

Therefore, the onus falls on Sweat to be more effective — again, Rivera's claims notwithstanding, it's not as if Sweat is having to run through multiple layers of protection on the majority of snaps — but also on the staff to free him up. Rivera acknowledged that responsibility in his presser, but there's a wide gap between acknowledging and accomplishing.

In the meantime, Sweat will lean on his assistant defensive line coach and ex-teammate, Ryan Kerrigan, whom Sweat appreciates because Kerrigan can relate to struggles like the one he's currently experiencing. No. 90 is on pace to play more snaps than he ever has before as a pro but, even with that uptick in reps, he's just not generating much individual pressure.

"A guy that's actually played my position and been through the pains that I'm going through and will go through," Sweat said of Kerrigan. "He's a helpful tool."

Sweat's next opportunity to break his early-season slump comes this Sunday in Dallas. Whatever urge he's feeling to end it wasn't all that obvious as he spoke to the media ahead of the matchup.

"Ron always talks about just playing my game, letting the game come to me," Sweat said. "So I'm honing in on that."

For the Commanders' sake, hopefully he'll be honing in on helpless passers soon.