The Nitty Gritty
Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett came to the Bucs during the 2019 offseason as a free agent on a one-year deal after five years in Denver, waiting in the wings behind the likes of outside linebacker Von Miller. Barrett didn't have gaudy stats but was brought in as a solid player to help the Bucs' ailing pass rush. He competed for a starting outside backer job in the Bucs' new 3-4 scheme under Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles in training camp and many thought he just barely edged out Noah Spence for the role.
Those people would be wrong, and Barrett would prove it – immediately.
In his first four regular season games, Barrett amassed 9.0 sacks – tying for the most ever through four games in NFL history. He surpassed the double-digit mark during Week Eight. He tied Warren Sapp's franchise record for most single-season sacks in Week 15 with 16.5. And then, when all was said and done - he finished with a league-best 19.5 after a final push in Week 17 against the Falcons in which he tallied 3.0 sacks. Simply put: Barrett bet on himself and won.
His efforts earned him the first Pro Bowl nod of his career and second-team All-Pro honors (how the league's sack leader doesn't get first-place votes is beyond me, too). He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his Week Two primetime performance against the Panthers where he tallied 3.0 sacks in Carolina. He subsequently earned NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September for tying the sack record through four games as well as leading the NFL in quarterback hits (10), tackles for loss (7.0) and tied for third in the NFL with three forced fumbles. He added an interception of Rams' quarterback Jared Goff in Week Four for good measure.
In all, Barrett finished the season with 58 combined tackles, a second-ranked 19 tackles for loss and third-ranked six forced fumbles. His league-leading 19.5 sacks were the most ever by an undrafted player since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
And now… here's ALL of them in one place.
Week One vs. San Francisco
Watch Barrett stunt inside of tight end George Kittle, who releases into a route instead of blocking. As a result, Barrett is left completely unblocked and boom - gets his first sack of the season on Niners quarterback Jimmy Garappolo.
Week Two @ Carolina
Barrett is left one-on-one with the left tackle and just straight up beats him. Shows a good bend as he closes in on Panthers' quarterback Cam Newtown for his *first* takedown of the day.
And Barrett continued to have a field day with Carolina's left tackle (#60). For his second sack of the night, Barrett does the exact same thing as before and blows right past him to wrap up Newton.
So this is the very next play. First, Barrett is in a wide-9 alignment before he gets tighter to the formation next to Ndamukong Suh. They both rush at #73 before #60 attempts to take Barrett one-on-one again and Barrett does what he's done all night, blowing past him to get to Newton for the hat trick.
Week Three vs. New York Giants
This performance was largely overlooked because the Bucs ended up losing in heartbreaking fashion but it wasn't because of Barrett, who had FOUR sacks on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. The first, the tight end releases into a route, leaving the left tackle to deal with Barrett. He cuts inside on the tackle who tries to keep a hold on him but fails as Barrett reaches Jones for the sack and subsequent forced fumble, which was recovered by the Bucs for Barrett's first (but not last) strip sack.
This should have been another strip sack for Barrett, and was initially called as such before being reversed. Barrett still gets credit for the sack, though.
This next one came as the left tackle just seemed to lose track of Barrett in traffic after never engaging. Barrett keeps his eyes on Jones and gets around to the backside thanks to Vita Vea occupying his blocker and takes Jones down.
The Giants are learning the hard way that you need more than one guy blocking Barrett. This next sack comes all of two plays later as Barrett takes Jones down for a loss of eight.
Week 4 @ Los Angeles Rams
This was a fun one. It came with just 1:17 left in the game and ended up being the dagger sealing the Bucs' victory. Barrett pulls a nasty spin move to cut inside from the left of the formation this time. It completely befuddles the right tackle and Barrett gets to Goff, causing him to cough up the football. Suh recovered and got himself a big-man touchdown against his former team.
Week Eight @ Tennessee
Barrett is back on the defensive right side after the return of outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul and sure enough, the Titans are having a tough time containing both the pass rushers. Barrett puts both hands on the ground momentarily, causing the tackle to hesitate ever so slights. It allows Barrett to get a jump on him and cut back inside to take quarterback Ryan Tannehill down along with popping the ball out for yet another strip sack.
Week Nine @ Seattle
The first split-sack of Barrett's season came on Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle had stuck a tight end on Barrett and uh, that ain't gonna work. Barrett just flat out overpowers him, driving him back until he's within reach of Wilson. By that point, the pocket has collapsed and defensive lineman Beau Allen has also gotten in there as the two tag team to take down Wilson.
Week 10 vs. Arizona
Barrett's get-off is just fantastic. It's so perfectly timed. He beats the right tackle outright with his speed, preventing the blocker from getting any sort of leverage and bends around to take rookie quarterback Kyler Murray to the ground. Welcome to the NFL (and the Shaq Barrett experience), kid.
Week 12 @ Atlanta
Another strip sack for Shaq - yawn, amirite? Ok, no, it's still entertaining. Barrett again beats the left tackle by just never letting him engage in the first place. He uses his quickness to get around the blocker and come around to sack quarterback Matt Ryan. He may have only had one in Atlanta but it wouldn't be his only on Ryan for the season.
Week 13 @ Jacksonville
Another one. Barrett gets one on Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles as he comes in from the defensive left side and refuses to fully engage with the right tackle until it's too late, disallowing any sort of control the blocker has on the situation. He uses his speed to get around and get to the back of Foles to get the sack and force the ball out. Rookie inside linebacker Devin White would recover it and take it in for the first defensive touchdown of his career.
Barrett had one more in Jacksonville but against a different quarterback as Foles was replaced at halftime by Gardner Minshew. The Jags had apparently also learned that they needed more than one guy on Barrett, who they initially have double-teamed on the below. The running back chips Barrett and as he does that the tackle bails out to help contain Vea and Barrett comes in free and clear to get to Minshew as the pocket collapses. I think the tackle's double-take is my favorite from this highlight.
Week 14 vs. Indianapolis
The Colts brought in an extra blocker for quarterback Jacoby Brissett on this play and (surprise) put him to Barrett's side of the formation. It still resulted in a one-on-one matchup for Barrett, who again gets past his blocker thanks to Suh and Will Gholston keeping their blockers at bay and the tight end releasing into a route. Barrett wraps up Brissett as he dives for his waist and Gholston cleans it all up. Gholston was initially credited with a half sack here but it was then given solely to Barrett following the game.
Week 15 @ Detroit
You could probably make a case that Barrett could have split this sack, too, given that Suh had a hand on Lions quarterback David Blough's ankle the whole time but itt was sack number 16.5 for Barrett, meaning a tie for the franchise record set by Warren Sapp. It takes Barrett a second to actually get Blough down after getting behind him but he doesn't stop scrapping until he finishes the job.
Week 17 vs. Atlanta
You may have thought Barrett was done for the season. He had tied the franchise record, which is more than anyone could have anticipated back in training camp. But after leading the NFL for most of the season in sacks, Barrett was overtaken in the last minute by the Cardinals' Chandler Jones. Not one to go quietly, Barrett had a couple more tricks (and sacks) up his sleeve for the last game of the season. He made up for getting just one sack on Matt Ryan in Week 12 by piling on another hat trick, And here they are in succession.
Lol at the last one. After wanting a false start penalty on Atlanta, Barrett basically just walks his way to Ryan and lightly nudges him down. Poor Ryan, he'd been harassed all day. Just like most quarterbacks who had to face Barrett this season.