Montez Sweat’s play time shows troubling issue in Lions debacle

Bears snap count: Montez Sweat’s play time shows troubling issue in Lions debacle originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Bears traded for Montez Sweat and subsequently signed the edge rusher to a $98 million contract extension to have him anchor their defense for the foreseeable future. A player of Sweat’s caliber, who produces and is paid handsomely, must be on the field as much as possible, especially in critical situations.

That’s why he was brought to Chicago.

But that wasn’t the case Sunday in the Bears’ 31-26 meltdown loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Sweat played just 39 snaps in the loss in Detroit. That’s good for 63 percent of the Bears’ total defensive snaps. Yannick Ngakoue paced all Bears edge rushers with 45 snaps, and DeMarcus Walker nearly equaled Sweat with 38.

Sweat was also off the field on several critical third-down and red-zone plays. After the game, the defensive end told reporters that he subbed himself out on a third and goal play that the Lions scored on.

For comparison, Lions star edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson played 69 snaps Sunday, good for 92 percent of the Lions’ defensive snaps.

That’s what is required out of a star pass rusher. They should rarely come off the field.

On Monday, head coach Matt Eberflus defended the Bears’ defensive line rotation that kept Sweat off the field in some big moments.

“For sure, we want him out there more,” Eberflus said Monday. “But those guys are rotating. Travis rotates them in and out. Usually, they’re five to seven plays – somewhere in there – during the two-minute drive like that. You just gotta platoon them and get them in there fresh. And when those lead dogs are fresh, you put them back in. You just gotta do that because those guys are throwing their fastball every time.

“Sweat’s one of our best players, he really is, and that’s just how we do it,” Eberflus later said when asked if Sweat should be playing more. “We platoon our guys and keep them fresh that…


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