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Just months after signing a four-year contract worth an average of $17 million per season, Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett promised to have a big 2021 season.

“I do agree that my sack numbers were down,” Barrett said over the summer prior to the start of Bucs training camp. “My pressure rate was good, but I think pressure only matters if you are getting sacks. I’m trying to get my sack numbers back up.”

With a team-leading 5.5 sacks through seven games, Barrett is doing just that. He’s on pace to post 13 sacks this season, which would be a big improvement over last year.

After notching a career-high 19.5 sacks in 2019, which led the NFL, his sack total fell to just eight last year during a season in which Tampa Bay used the franchise tag on him. Barrett has been more consistent this season, with at least one sack in five of the Bucs’ seven games this season.

What’s missing is the multi-sack games, although Barrett did have 1.5 sacks in the team’s 45-17 win against Miami. He had two multi-sack games last year during the regular season, notching two sacks and a safety at Denver, and a pair of sacks against Minnesota. Barrett also had three sacks at Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.

Yet, in his Pro Bowl season in 2019, Barrett had four games with multiple sacks in the regular season.

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I’m working on being consistent game in, game out,” Barrett said. “There were some games where I might have played good, but in my head I didn’t play the way I was supposed to play. I want to improve on that. I want to have the best season possible that you all have ever seen from a defensive end/outside linebacker.”

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has been pleased with Barrett’s play this season.

“He’s playing well,” Arians said. “He’s rushing the quarterback well, playing the run well. He is playing Shaq football right now.”

In addition to accounting for one-third of Tampa Bay’s 16 sacks this season, Barrett is tied for fourth on the team with 26 tackles, including a team-high five tackles-for-loss. Barrett has also forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and picked off a pass.

His numbers should be even better. Barrett was robbed of a sack-fumble in Week 2 against Atlanta and was penalized for being offsides. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder actually timed the snap count perfectly and the refs blew it. Barrett also had a forced fumble at New England that was called back by a very questionable instant replay decision.

Add up those stolen stats and Barrett should have 6.5 sacks with four forced fumbles in 2021. With or without those numbers, Barrett is having a great start to the season.

“I’m coming with a vengeance this year – even though we won the Super Bowl,” Barrett famously said prior to the start of the season. “I’m still hungry. I want to show my supporters that they’re right to support me and show the doubters that they were wrong for doubting me.

“I want to be individually the Defensive Player of the Year. If they want to give me the MVP, because my season that I’ll have should be MVP level. I’m coming, man. I won’t be denied this year. I’m so excited to have this time off so when we get back I’ll be ready to go. This year is going to be real big for me.”

So far, so good, Shaq.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
1 month ago

As the defense gets healthier, particularly the secondary along with Lavonte David, the coverage will get better against the passing game … and in turn that will give quarterbacks fewer targets, and likely even better performance by our pass rushers on quarterback pressures, hits, and sacks than we’ve seen prior to the Chicago game. The front seven and back four, when working well, are complementary and offenses really have nowhere to go with the ball. We won’t necessarily play as good on defense as we saw against the Bears, but I think that is more the model of where this… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Naplesfan
76Buc
76Buc(@76buc)
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

But they need to continue to stop the run. Last week was mediocre.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  76Buc
1 month ago

Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles have stated repeatedly that they are of the belief that if you stop the run, then you are in a stronger position to stop the pass because it deprives the offense of play action passing. And everybody knows that this is a passing league today, where passing yards and passing TDs greatly outnumber rushing yards and rushing TDs. So the primary objective of stopping the run is actually to stop the pass. So, I’d submit that against the Bears, the Bucs did a great primary job of stopping the pass and getting turnovers, so stopping… Read more »

76Buc
76Buc(@76buc)
1 month ago

Let’s see. Last year Barrett had 4 sacks in just two games! What the hell did he do for the rest of the year?!

aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1(@aredsoxfan1)
Reply to  76Buc
1 month ago

I would be more than happy to see Barrett repeat his 2020 performance. Take all the time off you want during the regular season Shaq as long as you bring it in the playoffs like last year. The last 2 games in the playoffs he had 16 pressures and 4 sacks.

aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1(@aredsoxfan1)
1 month ago

I disagree with Shaq on the pressures. They often lead the opposing QB into making bad decisions. Sacks are better no doubt, but pressures often work as well.

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