Shaq Barrett has enjoyed just about everything an edge rusher can enjoy over his past two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
From leading the NFL in sacks during the 2019 season, to winning a Super Bowl this past season and being rewarded with a top-dollar contract in April, life has been good to No. 58 in red and pewter.
There is one thing that Barrett hasn't done, however: Become complacent.
Barrett has vocalized frustrations regarding his play throughout the 2020 regular season, where he tallied eight sacks compared to 19.5 a season prior. Barrett took his game to another level in the playoffs with four sacks, but is adamant that he expects better of himself throughout the first 17 games of the year.
"This upcoming year, I'm working on being consistent game-in, game-out," Barrett told media on Thursday. "There were some games where I might have played good, but in my head, I don't think I played the way I supposed to play. So, I'm most definitely gonna improve on that."
Barrett began his 2020 campaign with only three sacks in the Buccaneers' first eight games of the season, before accumulating five in his latter seven appearances (Barrett did not play in Week 17 after being placed on the COVID-19 list) and eventually exploding in the postseason.
In May, Tampa Bay's outside linebackers coach Larry Foote explained that while he was pleased with Barrett's performance a year ago, he too expects an improvement from the $72 million edge rusher during the regular season.
Foote tabbed the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on football training activities last summer as a possible suspect for Barrett's lack of early-season production. Barrett didn't look for excuses when summing up his play, though, and instead pointed directly to the things that he can refine within his game.
"I'm most definitely working on taking the proper angles, knowing where my help at, knowing where the quarterback wants to escape at because of where my help is located," Barrett said. "I've just got to just be more efficient in my angles and pursue angles to the ball and to the quarterback so I could be able to make some plays that I've been missing."
Even though his sack count wasn't up to the standard set, Barrett still found a way to get after the quarterback pretty consistently. He finished the 2020 regular season with a league-leading 77 QB pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
To Barrett, however, pressures are relatively meaningless unless they end in a sack. Admitting that his pressure rate was admirable, Barrett suggested that he makes tallying sacks his priority and aims to raise his final count to a Defensive Player of the Year and maybe even Most Valuable Player-caliber level in 2021.
"I'm coming with a vengeance this year, even though we won the Super Bowl I'm still hungry," Barrett exclaimed. "I want to show my supporters that they right for supporting me and show the doubters that it was wrong for doubting me.
"So, I mean, I'm coming. I want to be, individually, like Defensive Player of the Year. If they want to give me MVP because the season that I have should be MVP level, I'm coming man. I won't be denied at all."