He rode into town without much hoopla
Way back in June, I did an article entitled, “A reminder to fans: We got an ace in the hole”. With all the attention and excitement over our 2019 draft picks, in particular, Devin White, in full swing at the time. I felt like the acquisition of Shaq Barrett, in a year where we were severely handcuffed by the salary cap and made only one free agent pick up of any note, had been overlooked, or forgotten by most fans. The ones that did remember or were aware of the move, might not have realized what a great pickup it was. I realized at the time that the move, might turn out to be huge, and I wanted fans to realize that we had an ace in the hole for this season, to add to the notables we selected in the draft. Good news for us Bucs fans is always a hot commodity in this Cigar City, and is all too often, hard to come by. I considered the pick up not quite as big as the Jason Pierre Paul grab last year, but one that could turn out to be a very important transaction for the success of our defense. An impact player for sure, to what level, remained to be seen, not anymore.
Feature Image Credit: Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett - Photo by Pewter Report
Making Bucs’ Games fun again
Fast forward to Thursday’s Carolina game. The Ace is no longer in the hole folks. He’s laid down on the table as the end piece to a Royal Straight Flush. Introducing himself close and personal to Cam Newton on three separate occasions. Pierre Paul never did that in any one game for us last year. Paul had two games with two sacks, but never 3. Obviously, Shaq may not repeat that feat in one game again this year. But you know that it is possible after last night. Teams will now know that they better account for Mr. Barrett. I feel though that eliminating his abilities and presence isn’t something that most teams will be able to do. The great players always overcome added attention. It’s what makes them great.
Just entering his best years
That’s not all, Shaq is only 27, and just coming into his formidable playing years. There is still room for getting better, physically and mentally. The only thing that may be a downer is that he’s only under contract for this year. Hopefully, the Bucs will be in a position to tender him a competing offer, because if he keeps playing close to what he has, he will be a wanted man for sure. Consider this, Barrett keeps playing at a high level, the rest of the defense gets even better as the season progresses. Then Pierre Paul returns say around game 6 or 7 and plays close to what he did last year. Man, that’s going to be a nightmare for the teams on our schedule finishing out the year. Between Bowles 3-4 scheme, which Barrett admitted when he came to Tampa, he plays the best in that style D, and the rest of this ever-evolving Defense getting better together. They have the chance to be something very, very, special. Now add to that a Devin White playing up to the hype. Man, I’m so excited, I got to sit on my hands to stop from waving to everybody.
Credit where it’s due
In closing, I think it’s only fair, and definitely fitting that fans should give credit where credit is due. Jason Licht has really done a hell of a job putting the pieces together from the draft, and what appears to be a huge free agent signing in Barrett, in a year we really needed one. And, didn’t have the luxury of bringing in multiple guys to fill the need. One-shot. and he appears to have nailed it with this free agent.
A Thank You
Our hats off to you Shaq Barrett, keep up the good work. You and the rest of the defense made it fun to be a Bucs fan again. That’s something that has also been in short supply for a while. If the first game made you say, OMG here we go again. This game made you believe the good times are a coming back to this Bay Town. Go Bucs!!