Interview with Shaquil Barrett: We want to be one of best defenses ever


For Denver Broncos pass rusher Shaquil Barrett, it was a disappointing entrance into the NFL. Following a dominant senior season where he was the MWC defensive player of the year, he wasn’t picked. Round after round went by, and teams continued to pass.

With a wife and kids to provide for, Barrett signed with the Broncos, who were basically the hometown team to his college at Colorado State. When he was passed up by all 32 teams, he said it was a disappointment based on his resume coming out.

“Yeah that’s how I felt (disappointed). I thought I was good enough in college for some team to take a chance on me in the draft. It didn’t happen that way. It’s put a chip on my shoulder and made me more motivated to come out and show all the other teams they missed out.”

So far this season, Barrett is doing just that. He’s making teams regret they passed on him. Every NFL team needs good pass rushers, and Barrett appears to be a really, really good one. The Broncos are lucky. They were able to stash Barrett on the practice squad all of last season until the very end, when they called him up to the active roster for the last  few weeks of the year.

Barrett said there were times when he was on the practice squad that he would be able to do his own thing, but for the most part, he would help give the offense the best possible look and emulate some of the best pass rushers in the league, including Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Despite a really solid preseason performance in 2014, the rookie didn’t make the final 53-man roster. This offseason, he set out to change that. He dedicated himself and made the necessary changes in his workout regiment to get to the next level physically.

“This was the first time I actually fully committed myself to training the whole time over the break, not just doing it for a couple of weeks and taking a break. I committed my whole offseason to football, changed my diet up, and decided to become a more explosive player.”

Von Miller has lauded Barrett for his work ethic this past offseason, citing the noticeable difference in his play. Barrett’s year learning from Miller and DeMarcus Ware certainly attributed to his changed work habits, but also added to his repertoire as a pass rusher.

I asked Barrett if there were any friendly bets between the group of pass rushers, now that each one of them is on the board with at least one sack, and Barrett is climbing towards the team lead.

“Von and D-Ware might have something, but I don’t have anything. I’m just happy to be here and get some playing time. When the sacks come I’ll be happy I get them, but I’m just trying to contribute any way I can.”

It’s early on, but Barrett looks like he might be a key piece in a potential championship defense. He says the biggest difference between this year and last is that the team has changed its base scheme defensively (4-3 to a 3-4) and the way the team prepares for every game. He says they come into every practice with the mindset that they have to make every play, and that comes out in the game.

“We want to be one of the best defenses ever and we know we gotta keep coming out on game day.”

The Broncos play the Green Bay Packers this week in a homecoming game of sorts. It’s also a big time game due to the fact that it’s a Ring of Fame tribute to owner Pat Bowlen. Barrett said that winning this game would mean a lot on multiple levels.

“It’s going to mean a lot especially if we can get the job done. Me personally, I don’t like letting anyone down, so if we can go out there and get that win, it’ll be icing on the cake.”

The biggest question for Barrett, though, is whether or not he can top Von Miller’s sack dances from earlier this year. He laughed, and told me:

“Yeah hopefully I’ll pick something up for ya I’ll show you a little sum-sum.”

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