NEW ORLEANS, LA. — One day after signing a four-year, $98 million contract extension with the Bears, defensive end Montez Sweat made his debut Sunday in the Bears’ 24-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome.
Sweat was relatively quiet in his Bears debut. That’s to be expected for a player who arrived in Chicago on Wednesday and had limited time to learn the playbook and build chemistry with his new line-mates.
Sweat was credited with two tackles and a pass defensed in the loss in New Orleans. The Bears’ new star edge rusher wasn’t pleased with the minimal impact he made against the Saints.
“It wasn’t enough,” Sweat said after the loss. “I’ve got to get there more. I’ve got to get more production.
“I was getting one-on-ones — I need to win those,” Sweat later said. “I’m going to get back on the drawing board, check the film and see what I can do better, going forward.”
Despite the limited impact, the Bears felt a lift with their newly acquired star edge rusher in the lineup.
“It’s always a boost when a guy like that, who that’s dominant and can play the run and the pass,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “I’m pretty sure he got things he want to do to get cleaned up and work on plays, learn the playbook so he can be out there more with us. It’s always a boost when you add new talent to the field.”
When Sweat arrived at Halas Hall on Wednesday, he said he would consider everything before signing a long-term deal to stay with the Bears.
But football is a physical game, and long-term protection trumps everything.
“It gives me another sense of security for me to go out there and I get injured I know I’m protected,” Sweat said. “But that’s not really what I’m worried about. I’m worried about getting dubs, getting production.”
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The Bears know it will take time to get Sweat up and running in a new scheme with new rush partners. Defensive line coach Travis Smith worked with Sweat’s old defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, so he has been helping quickly translate the verbiage into something easy for Sweat to digest.
The Bears’ pass rush had zero sacks and two hurries Sunday in New Orleans. They need Sweat to make quick progress in adapting to his new NFL life. That’s something the 27-year-old believes can happen with hard work on his end.
“It all depends on how much work I put in,” Sweat said. “How much studying I’m doing with the coaches and stuff like that, it can happen fast.”
The Bears need that to be the case.
After Sunday’s loss, they are now 2-7 and averaging just one sack per game.
The Bears acquired Sweat for the long term, but both parties know they need the production to ratchet up quickly with the long-term extension now set in stone.
Both are confident it will come … it’s just going to take some time.