Shaquil Barrett's first month as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer could hardly have gone better. In some respects, it was the best month a Buccaneer defender has had in at least a dozen years.
On Wednesday, the NFL announced that Barrett had been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. He's the first Tampa Bay player to win that award since linebacker Barrett Ruud did so in September of 2007. Prior to Ruud's honor, the Buccaneers had captured exactly six such awards, all by franchise all-time greats, as Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp each won it twice between 1997 and 2002.
Barrett, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in March after five years in Denver, has been nothing short of dominant in his Buccaneer debut. He has nine of the team's 11 sacks, tying an NFL record for the most sacks recorded through the first four games of a season. Barrett leads the NFL in that category – three ahead of Cleveland's Myles Garrett, who has six – and in quarterback hits with 10, and he is also tied for third with three forced fumbles. Barrett has at least one QB takedown in all four games this season, and his four sacks against the New York Giants in Week Three tied a Buccaneers single-game record.
After his three-sack game in a Week Two win at Carolina – which earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors – and the aforementioned four-sack outburst against the Giants, Barrett capped his astounding month with an all-around effort in Tampa Bay's 55-40 road win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week Four. Barrett snared his first career interception in that contest and also leveled a hit on Rams quarterback Jared Goff that caused the errant pass intercepted by safety Jordan Whitehead in the second quarter.
To cap it off, Barrett helped seal the Bucs' upset victory over Los Angeles with a strip-sack in the game's final two minutes that led to Ndamukong Suh's 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Barrett's honor is the Buccaneers' first NFC Player of the Month award of any variety since linebacker Dekoda Watson won the special teams honors in November of 2012. That's one of eight Special Teams Player of the Month awards won by Tampa Bay players, to go with the eight defensive trophies. No Buccaneer has won an NFC Offensive Player of the Month award.