DENVER, Colorado (WFLA) – Although he called Empower Field at Mile High his home away from home for years, Shaquil Barrett returned to it on Sunday afternoon as a member of the visiting team.
The outside linebacker, who spent the first five years of his NFL career as a Denver Bronco, jumped ship to become a Buccaneer in March of 2019. Barrett wanted the opportunity to land a starting job and he found that opportunity in the Sunshine State.
Barrett recorded 19.5 sacks in his first season with the Buccaneers and, on Sunday against his former team, he outworked the Broncos’ offensive line to sack Jeff Driskel twice. Those two sacks are the first sacks of the season for Barrett.
“It was a normal morning,” he admitted in the postgame interview, “but it was not until I got to the stadium that I started feeling all of the emotions and excitement and enthusiasm.”
His head coach, Bruce Arians, said he knew Barrett was going to have a productive day in Denver.
“They tried to single block him,” said Arians, “and we kept pressuring up the middle, which was getting him singled, and people were getting home from everywhere.”
The Buccaneers recorded a total of six sacks in the game. Barrett led the charge with two of them but his teammates, Antoine Winfield Jr., Jordan Whitehead, Vita Vea, and Jason Pierre-Paul, also contributed to the cause.
Barrett commented on the competitive nature of the entire Buccaneers defense.
“Devin [White] is talking about, ‘I am going to get there before you get there,’ and I am like, ‘No, you are not,’” Barrett said with a smile, “but I like that we are competing on stuff like that. I told him I am going to catch a pick before him. We are all hungry out here. We all want to make the plays. We all want to make it happen and it is not like somebody is waiting for somebody to make it happen so, whenever somebody’s number is called, they are going to make it.”
The desire to be the player who makes the play is one of the reasons why this defense is a huge part of the success of this team but, according to Barrett, they are still a work in progress.
“At times, we are most definitely the defense that we love, bringing all of the energy and making all of the plays,” said Barrett when he was asked if this defense is the defense he expected this season, “but we still have to work on eliminating the drives like the two-minute drive we gave up because that is really going to hurt us against a team that is making us work for everything every game or every quarter.”
Yes, Barrett believes he can be better, the Buccaneers defense can be better, but, all in all, you would have to agree that Barrett could not have had a better return to the team that gave him his first shot in the National Football League.
LATEST NEWS FROM WFLA.COM:
- Pence’s top aide tests positive for coronavirus
- Crews vacuum ‘murder hornets’ out of Washington nest
- AMBER Alert canceled for 2 girls found safe after 2 boys found dead in Kansas
- Silver Alert canceled after Clearwater man with memory issues found
- Ivanka Trump to hold ‘Make America Great Again!’ campaign event in Sarasota on Tuesday