I don’t necessarily love to name the same player as Hoss of the Week two weeks in a row. For one, I feel weird repeating all the same things I just wrote. For two, I also like to spread the love around when possible, especially with so many different guys turning in good-to-great defensive line performances on a weekly basis. If two players have exceptional games that are similar in impact by my totally arbitrary gut feeling after watching them on tape, I will usually try to pick the one that I had never written about before.
But sometimes a guy will follow up a great performance with one where he goes berserk, and there’s simply no way to ignore it. And why would I, when my goal is to pick the most deserving defensive lineman every week?
I swear at one point while watching the game live that Buccaneers edge rusher, and reigning Hoss recipient, Shaquil Barrett’s uniform was going to start glowing like an old-school NBA Jam character because that dude was on fire!
Well, actually, that dude has been on fire ever since the regular season first started. He did, however, damn near reach inferno status against the Giants in Week 3. In the second half of that game, he went to another level as a pass rusher.
Barrett turned in one of the best performances a Buccaneers DL has ever had
I am sorry to report is that after reviewing the film, one thing evident to me is that the Giants don’t read my Hoss column every week (but maybe they should start!). I say that because they came into the game woefully unprepared to deal with Barrett’s pass-rush ability, even though we all know I wrote about him embarrassing the Panthers’ left tackle in my Hoss column just last week.
So, instead of sending extra attention Barrett’s way to try to slow him down on passing downs, the Giants’ coaching staff decided it would be a much better idea to leave their left tackle, Nate Solder, out there on an island one-on-one with Barrett for most the game. An interesting choice to be sure, and one that damn near cost them the game.
Just picture Barrett as a hot knife and Solder as room temperature butter and you will have a pretty good visual representation of how that matchup went all game long.
In the end, the Giants were pull out a one-point road victory over the Bucs, despite Barrett’s best efforts. However, without the big plays he made, it’s very likely the game wouldn’t have even been close in the fourth quarter to begin with. The guy had one of the best pass rushing games from any edge rusher I’ve seen in quite a while.
Not only did Barrett get to Giants rookie first-round quarterback Daniel Jones early and often, he was also able to force a couple of turnovers with his pressure as well. That the Bucs squandered his epic performance is certainly par for the course for that team over the last decade or so. That still doesn’t diminish his individual production.
I’m going to break down three of Barrett’s outstanding plays from Sunday, and once I’m done I think you will agree.
Let’s start off with Barrett’s first sack of the day.
Play No. 1: Barrett barreled through two guys to force Jones to fumble
The Bucs were up 18-10 with 2:22 left in the first half. The Giants had the ball and Jones had just completed a 15-yard pass to Darius Slayton from their own 30-yard line. Now they had a first-and-10.
Jones was lined up in the shotgun, with running back Wayne Gallman to his right. Barrett was lined up on the defensive right edge in a standup six-technique, head up on Giants tight end Evan Engram. When the ball was snapped, Engram didn’t waste any time and went up the field immediately into his route. He did absolutely nothing to try to impede Barrett’s route to the quarterback, not even a stutter step to try to freeze him. In fact, Engram quickly took an inside track to try to avoid Barrett.
With Engram taking off right away, it fell to Solder to try to block Barrett one-on-one on a true dropback pass. Just like the week before, Barrett made the Giants pay for that lack of respect. He shot up the field a little wide, forcing Solder to try to get width so that he didn’t get beaten immediately around the edge. Getting that kind of width so fast played right into Barrett’s hands, however.
As he approached the widening Solder, Barrett chopped his feet to get Solder to stop his. Solder braced to shoot his punch, but Barrett quickly swatted Solder’s inside (right) hand with his inside (left) hand, and simultaneously crossed his feet over to get inside of Solder. He followed through with a nice rip move with his outside (right) arm through Solder’s inside half.
While all this was going on, Bucs defensive tackle Vita Vea, who started off lined up in a three-technique outside of Giants left guard Will Hernandez, was executing an inside move of his own and trying to get push in the A gap between Hernandez and the Giants center Jon Halapio. This is important, because Hernandez initially following Vea inside is what helped to create the opening inside of Solder that allowed Barrett to slide through. Hernandez was helping out Halapio with Vea, but when he peeped Barrett heading toward his quarterback, Hernandez tried to slide back outside to help.
It was too late.
Barrett was able to see Hernandez coming. He reacted quickly by ripping with his inside (left) arm through Hernandez’s outside (left) arm. Yes, that does mean Barrett ended up ripping through Solder and Hernandez at the same time just to get to Jones. Now that’s what I call determination.
He was already close to the quarterback by that time, so Barrett swung his left arm through to try to separate the ball out of Jones hands.
Barrett was successful in his endeavor and his teammate Carl Nassib was able to recover the fumble to give the Bucs the ball on the Giants’ 41-yard line.
The Bucs would end up going right down the field and scoring a touchdown to go up 25-10 before halftime. Yeah, I would definitely call that a big play.
Next, I want to take a look at one of the pressures Barrett had later on in the game.
Play No. 2: Barrett hit Solder with a cold-ass spin move
By the middle of the third quarter, the Bucs’ lead had been whittled down to a measly three points, 28-25. The Giants were still fighting, but they found themselves facing a second-and-15 from their own 34-yard line. The Giants were again in shotgun with Gallman offset to Jones’ right, but this time Engram was lined up on the defense’s left edge.
I see the look on your face. Yes, that does mean they left Solder completely on an island with Barrett this time.
After the ball was snapped, Barrett took two good hard steps upfield just to get Solder to kickstep back, then Barrett’s spin move had Solder looking like he was sporting cement shoes. When I say that was a textbook spin move, it just doesn’t get any better than what Barrett’s pulled off here.
He threw his inside (left) arm out to bait Solder into throwing his punch, then Barrett used his inside hand to half chop/half shove Solder’s fully extended inside (right) while planting his outside foot to push him back inside in a pirouette motion. Barrett showed off great foot work, gaining ground with what had been his inside foot as he completed his spin.
The best part, for me at least, is that Barrett was on the details throughout the move and finished it off by using his outside (right) arm to follow through and bar Solder from recovering and getting his inside hand back on Barrett.
Because of that little detail Barrett was able to come scot-free without Solder being able to grab him from behind. Barrett maximized the opportunity by finishing the quarterback and delivering a jarring blow to Jones from behind.
The force of the blow made the ball come out of Jones’ hand funny as he tried to deliver a pass downfield, so the officials initially ruled it to be another fumble. However, on replay the call was overturned and ruled an incompletion.
That still goes down as a pressure for Barrett in my book. And, maybe more importantly, it was another good hit on a young quarterback that might have, in theory, helped to rattle him and get him more worried about the pass rush than reading the coverages.
I will note that on the very next play, Jones was a little indecisive and ended up getting sacked by Nassib, leading to a punt. I will also note that it appears Jones was trying to throw the ball to Bennie Fowler, who was open on a 10-yard curl.
Finally, let’s take a look at Barrett’s fourth and final sack of the game as another instance of him serving up Solder an old-fashioned ass-kicking.
Play No. 3: Barrett gave Solder the ol’ okee doke to force another fumble
The Buccaneers were still clinging to that three-point lead with 10:36 left to go in the game. The Giants had just intercepted a Jameis Winston pass intended for Mike Evans, who was having himself a day in his own right. New York had a second-and-9 from its own 40-yard line when Barrett decided to make another statement.
Jones was lined up in the gun, but this time Gallman was offset to his left and Engram was lined up on the left as well. Barrett was back in a standup nine-technique right on the outside edge of Engram and ready to pounce.
I feel like I should mention that at this point in the game Barrett already had three sacks. And, as a reminder, that’s after he notched three sacks the week prior against the Panthers. You would think even if his production hadn’t caught the Giants’ attention prior to that point, surely now they would send some more help Solder’s way.
Yeah, you might think that. But it turns out the Giants were committed to being hard-headed all game, and for that, Solder and Jones paid the price.
Once again, Engram went right out into his route without so much as a quick glance in Barrett’s direction. Gallman was lined up on Barrett’s side before the snap, so he was in great position to chip him should anyone have asked him to. Evidently nobody asked him to because instead, Gallman checked inside for blitz first, then actually went around Barrett to try to avoid him so Gallman could sneak out on a route.
Now you might be wondering by what circumstances would Gallman have had to avoid Barrett in the first place. Well, I’m glad you asked.
See, this time, Barrett got Solder with what Webster’s defines as the “okee doke.”
On the snap, Barrett got off the ball and made everything look almost exactly like it was when he won with the inside move I discussed earlier. He got wide to bait Solder into coming out to get him, then Barrett once again chopped his feet and used his inside (left) hand to swat Solder’s inside (right) hand as Barrett stepped inside.
Solder was determined not to get beat inside again, so he immediately flipped his feet to try to recover and ride Barrett all the way inside and past the quarterback. Unfortunately for Solder, Barrett was never actually planning on finishing that inside move in the first place.
Instead, when Solder tried to step down hard inside, Barrett planted his inside foot and calmly side-stepped him back outside. They were like two ships passing in the night and Solder had so much momentum going inside that he had no shot of recovering. To finish off the move, Barrett clubbed Solder’s outside (left) shoulder with his outside (right) arm to make sure Solder continued on inside and couldn’t step back outside to try to catch up to Barrett.
Solder ended up so out of whack that he had to try to butt block Barrett to try to keep him off of Jones. It was a futile effort. Just as Jones tried to cock back and throw, Barrett dipped, turned the corner tight, then laid out and swiped at the ball with his right hand to force another fumble.
The ball came loose on the Bucs’ side of the line of scrimmage, where it took one big bounce before it was recovered by Barrett’s teammate, defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
The recovery gave the Bucs the ball at the Giants’ 47-yard line. They would go on to kick a field goal on the ensuing drive to expand the lead up to six points, 31-25. The lead didn’t last, but that doesn’t change the fact that Barrett was partially responsible for that lead existing in the first place.
Barrett won’t set records every week, but he can absolutely keep wrecking fools
Losing the way the Bucs did on Sunday, on a missed last-second, chip shot field goal had to be soul crushing for the whole team. (They could’ve not taken a dumbass penalty, then insulted every one’s intelligence after the game with the horseshit excuse that they “meant to do that,” and instead taken at least one shot to the end zone with 13 seconds left and a timeout in their back pocket, rather than putting all the hopes for victory on a rookie kicker. But I digress.)
That’s especially the case for Barrett. He had a career day only to see it ruined in a way that I’m sure made it hard for him to even celebrate his own accomplishments.
While losing does suck, there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to pretend the Barrett didn’t show out on Sunday.
Let’s run the list. In that loss, Barrett tied the Buccaneers team record for sacks in a game with four and he also tied the record for forced fumbles in a game with two. Right now, he is leading the league in sacks with eight for the year. In the history of the NFL only one other player has notched eight sacks in his first three games of the season, and that guy just so happened to go on to set what was then the NFL sack record for a season with 22.
(It was Mark Gastineau if you aren’t familiar.)
(But, seriously, Google is right there.)
I know that sacks tend to come in bunches, so I’m not going to be “on pace” guy, but it’s safe to say Barrett has placed himself firmly in rarefied air with his play so far this year.
And if you are trying to hate and say “he hasn’t played anybody,” I just want to you to think real hard and try to name the dominant offensive tackles in the league right now. There aren’t that many of them and even fewer that show up on the Bucs’ schedule the rest of the season. Barrett also pass rushes well from either edge, so those teams are going to need excellent left and right tackles to try to hold him back and that still might not be enough. Seriously, at least chip the guy for your quarterback’s sake.
I tried to tell y’all last week that the guy isn’t a fluke. He isn’t getting all these sacks because of Todd Bowles’ scheming, or pass protection breakdowns as you can see from my columns. Barrett is going out there and beating people’s ass to get them. But don’t even worry about it because from what I’ve seen, if teams continue being stupid enough to single-block him, Barrett will keep making a believer out of all y’all on a weekly basis.
The crazy thing is, last Friday morning I was almost positive that I would be writing about Calais Campbell this week. The All-Pro defensive lineman had a monster game for Jacksonville in a win over Tennessee on Thursday Night Football. It was hard for me to even imagine anyone would have a more dominant pass-rushing performance than Campbell over the weekend, but Shaquil Barrett sure made a damn liar out of me.
With his four sacks, two caused fumbles, four other tackles including a tackle for a loss, two other pressures, and two other hits on the quarterback, Barrett had the kind of game against the Giants most defensive linemen can only dream about. For his efforts, I am happy to name him Hoss of the Week for the second week in a row.
If he can stay healthy, we might all just have to get used to writing and reading about this guy on a regular basis for the rest of this season, at the very least.