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 – 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.”
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: email@example.com
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