Not even the Bucs saw Barrett coming

by Gary Shelton on December 6, 2019

in general

Barrett has been a star for the Bucs/Photo By:© Joe Mestas

Friday, 3 a.m

In the beginning, way back about 14 1/2 sacks ago, Todd Bowles wasn't quite sure what he had in Shaq Barrett.

Probably, he didn't think he had the NFL's leading sack master.

“I mean we knew he was a solid player," defensive coordinator Bowles said, looking back. "I didn’t know how much of a pass rusher he was. I knew he could do a lot of things for us and he was versatile in that way. When we got him in with his array of pass rush moves and understanding of the game, he probably surprised us a little bit having heavy hands and being able to play the run as well from that aspect, along with having the other guys on the D-line has helped out. He’s got on roll and when he smells blood in the water, he’s hungry.”

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

Barrett has put himself in line for a big payday in the offseason with his breakout season. No Buc has ever had as many sacks though 12 games.

“I’m happy for Shaq," Bowles said. "I don’t compare him to those guys. I know they had legendary careers and they were all great players, but the way he came in here and worked, and put himself in that position is a credit to him – coming in after the offseason and buying in and then doing all the right things. It’s really a credit to Shaq himself.”

Bowles said he noticed Barrett when the team put on the pads.

“It was definitely pads on," Bowles said. "It was a progression as he went on going forward as you saw more and more, and he more comfortable he got, the more he started to show.”

And next year?

“I don’t know," Bowles said. "I can’t look ahead, but I can look forward to the next couple games and I think he’s on a roll right now. He’s found a groove, he’s playing well, and I’m happy with that.”

Bowles also had praise for fellow pass-rusher Jasson Pierre-Paul.

“I can’t even imagine what he’s been through," Bowles said, "But just seeing him out there and him rounding into form right now and playing harder, and grasping the scheme in the short time he’s grasped it. And playing the way he’s playing, I’m happy to be around him.”

The Bucs will have to be sharp, Bowles said, against the Colts.

“They don’t just run the ball. I think they’re well-balanced," Bowles said.. "I think they keep you off-balance. I think they do a great job with scheme runs and misdirection things and when you think they’re going to run the ball, they pass. They built a great play-action game. The tight ends and receivers do a good job, even though they had guys down they did a good job step up, come in and keep plugging along. You look at every game, they lost some close games, but that’s a very good football team.”

Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said the Bucs remain committed to the run.

“Well, like I always tell you, I love our runners," Leftwich said. "I think that week [we] just didn’t probably get a lot of yards in the run game. That game right there could’ve easily gone the other way. We were close on a few that could’ve changed the whole numbers standpoint [in terms of] rushing yards. I believe in running the ball. I think it’s essential to win games in this league, to have the ability to run the ball. We’ve got some rushing attempts [where] we’d like to have more from a yardage standpoint, but we’ll just keep giving Peyton [Barber] and RoJo (Ronald Jones II) opportunities. We believe in those guys, also. They’ll begin to make the plays needed from a yardage standpoint, but they did what they needed to do converting some third downs and putting us in positions to have the type of game that we had.”

Leftwich remains supportive of back Ronald Jones. although Jones was benched last week for missing a block.

"You forget RoJo is a young football player," Leftwch said."(There are) eighth-year running backs you cut the tape on that miss the same exact thing. That’s the tough thing about playing the position of running back, especially when you’re as young as RoJo. You’re going to have moments like that, but he’s got to understand where we are at. You can’t have those – you just can’t have them. Even when they happen, you can’t have them, and he has to understand the importance of it. The importance of it [is] if you can’t get the job done, just like B.A. (Bruce Arians) said, you probably are going to be sitting over there with him. He’s got to understand the importance of that. This is the first time this has really happened to him. I’m quite sure he has learned a lot from that.”

The Bucs play the Colts at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

Previous post:

Next post: