Tampa Bay Times
TAMPA — When Shaq Barrett was growing up, he’d create his own player while playing the latest Madden video game. His goal was be good enough every week that he’d win the game’s player of the week.
Now, the recognition is more than virtual.
Coming off his three-sack performance in Carolina on Thursday night, Bucs outside linebacker Shaq Barrett was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 2.
In the Bucs’ 20-14 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium, Barrett recorded three sacks, all coming in the third quarter and two on back-to-back plays. He also has four quarterback hits to give him a total of seven.
“It’s a huge honor,’’ Barrett said. “That’s a dream of mine. Since growing up, I always created a player on (the Madden) game and always tried to win them and I finally got one in real life.’’
Barrett is the first Bucs player to win the award in four years. The last Tampa Bay player to earn defensive player of the week honors was inside linebacker Lavonte David in Week 11 of the 2015 season after he recorded two interceptions, including one for a touchdown, in the Bucs’ 45-17 win at Philadelphia.
He also became the first Bucs player to record three sacks in a quarter since 2015, when Jacquies Smith logged three sacks in the third quarter of a Sept. 20 game at New Orleans,
Barrett currently leads the NFC with four sacks and trailed only Cleveland’s Myles Garrett (five) for the league lead.
His four sacks also tie Smith for the most in team history through the first two games.
Barrett credited his teammates and the combination of pass rush and coverage with his success against the Panthers Thursday.
“Just coach putting us in the right play called at the right time,’’ Barrett said. “The cornerbacks doing a great job giving me time to get to the quarterback. The guys inside getting double-teams and getting pocket push from the inside so the quarterback can’t step up. Me just beating my guy at the right time when everything is working perfectly. It just worked out three times in that game.’’
The last Bucs player to win weekly player of the week honors was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was NFC Offensive Player of the Week in weeks 1 and 2 of last season.
On the other hand, Barrett is the only Bucs player with a sack and only two other players have hit the quarterback in two games this season.
“Hopefully, they’ll start sliding to him,’’ Arians said. “Carl (Nassib) has had a couple but he’s let the go. Yeah, we’d like to get some more going and Carl has been really close. I think Suh got close a couple times, but yeah, just finish the deal.’’