Shaquil Barrett
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

There are certain players that have good years, and then follow those up with something truly exceptional. For the Buccaneers, they are seeing that with the addition of Shaquil Barrett to their pass-rushing corps. Barrett, who left Denver to find a starting job, is having a monster season thus far.

Barrett just got honored with the Defensive Player of the Month. He currently leads the league in sacks and forced fumbles with 9 and 3, respectively. He also leads the league in pressures with 28 pressures on the season. It has truly been a special performance as he looks at a big payday come free agency.

I will be diving into the tape for the PFN Film Room to see just how Barrett is achieving his absurd level of success. 

Making an impact in coverage

One of the more underrated portions of playing as an outside linebacker is actually coverage. Not many schemes ask their guys to drop out, but the Buccaneers do from time to time. Barrett has shown some heady awareness and the ability to disrupt passing lanes in the open field.

The Rams bring out the flood concept, and with two defenders in the flat and a receiver breaking open on the deep out, Barrett recognizes that and flies back. He nearly knocks this pass down. It squeezes into the passing lane, but it is a gorgeous throw by Jared Goff. Barrett’s strongest talent might be his ability to take a really good angle and catch the receiver from behind. He’s showing his versatility here.

This is as much a heads up of a play as you can get. Not a smart decision by Goff at all, but Barrett’s ability to flow towards the flat, beat the blocker to the edge, and then jump to pick this thing off means he read this play from the jump. He was keyed in, and when coaches talk about the disruption players can create underneath, this is exactly what they are referring to as a whole. Heads up play.

Defending the Run

Even though the sacks are certainly flashy and are big drive killers no matter how you look at it, defending the run and setting the edge is still as important as ever. Barrett has been a very solid run defender this season, on top of being the league’s top pass rusher.

If you realize you are the kick out defender on any potential play with a pull, you need to fly downhill and squeeze the pulling lane. Barrett executes this to perfection. As soon as he realizes he is the kick out defender, he flies downhill, squeezes the lane for any holes to open up, beats the pulling guard to his spot, and makes a really fantastic play to bring down the running back in the backfield — textbook stuff from Barrett.

Barrett winning in the pass rush

Barrett is undoubtedly impressive in one big area that will continue to allow the Buccaneers to create turnovers, pass-rushing. Barrett has been a force, and once you look at the tape,  it is no shock as to why he can win his battles so easily.

This all starts off with his quickness off the line. Barrett has some really nice burst to get right up on the tackle’s feet here. The slight hesitation inside allows him to establish an edge point where he can put his hands and bend around the edge. He starts to dip as he wins outside leverage and shows off fantastic ankle control to get around this edge. Then, he shows off those heavy hands and brings a powerful rip through to complete the dip-rip sequence. The best part is that he goes after the ball here trying to get a strip-sack and ends up popping this up to become an interception. He starts and finishes.

Barrett had set up this spin move all game long. Similar to the dip and rip clip above, Barrett had been attacking outside all day with little to no inside counters. That made the tackle set heavily outside and allowed Barrett to take full advantage of it. His burst off the ball gets him right on the toes of the tackle and then he pulls off a really sweet spin move as the tackle oversets trying to compensate for the outside attacks. Great strategical job from Barrett and he gets the strip-sack and game-winning touchdown.

Final Thoughts

Shaquil Barrett is having a special run, and by the film, there is no reason as to why Barrett should not continue to excel at a high level. He could come down to Earth off of his unreal pace right now, but this is a guy with a legitimate chance to finish with over 20 sacks come year’s end. He has been nothing short of spectacular. 

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