The message is clear for the rest of the NFL: Bucs’ outside linebacker (or defensive end) Shaq Barrett is coming for you in 2021.
Sometimes you have to drum up an introduction when you write a post on a player, especially if it’s centered around a quote. You have to provide context, or a feel for where the post is going to go.
But this isn’t the case for Barrett’s Thursday comments. He made his 2021 goals very clear during his post-practice Zoom session with reporters.
“I just want to have the best season possible that y’all [have] ever seen from a defensive end or outside linebacker,” Barrett said. “I’m coming with a vengeance this year, even though we won the Super Bowl. I’m still hungry. I want to show my supporters that they’re right for supporting me and show the doubters they’re wrong for doubting me. So, I mean, I’m coming.
“I want to be, individually, Defensive Player of the Year. If they want to give me MVP because my season that I have should be MVP-level. I’m coming man. I won’t be denied at all this year. I’m just 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.”
That is a rather strong statement coming from the man who led the NFL in sacks in 2019 and per Pro Football Focus, led the NFL in pressures among all players at his position in 2020. Per Sports Info Solutions, Barrett registered the 10th-best pressure rate in 2020, as well.
Based off the last two years, it’s easy to see why he has lofty goals for 2021.
This will be Barrett’s third year with the Bucs and Barrett’s third year in Todd Bowles’ defense. How Bowles’ runs the Bucs defense -and other factors- plays a major part in Barrett’s effectiveness. So naturally, one would think the table is set for a big year.
“I think it most definitely comes from the top-down with Coach Bowles, BA, my position coach [Larry] Foote giving me the freedom to play and not be a robot out there,” Barrett told reporters. “And then the guys on the field; our communication and knowing how each other will rush on certain plays so we can work off each other – that helps out a lot. And there’s just the mentality of just wanting to do whatever you can to help the team, wanting to put your team in position to win a game. So all of those combinations just lead up to being able to get after the passer.”
The Bucs signed Barrett to a long-term deal back in March, making him one of the highest-paid outside linebackers in the league. People expect big things from him this year. He knows this.
And he’s ready to show that he can meet said expectations. And then some.
“I’m still super-hungry,” Barrett said when asked if his long-term deal has affected how he approaches the game. “I’m ready to show them that I’m worth every last penny that I’m getting. And I also want to show them that I’m one of the best at my position.”
You’ve been warned, NFL.