In the spirit of Halloween, and the kind of football it's been here in Tampa Bay, the Times' coverage team is reviewing the things that are most haunting the 2-5 Bucs.
Here's their take on the personnel decision most haunts them right now:
Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: There may be several moves they wished they had back. Drafting Roberto Aguayo, in addition to preventing them from addressing another need such as a pass rusher, led to the Bucs signing Nick Folk, Folk winning the job and then missing huge FGs which potentially cost them a win. Now they have gone from missing field goals to not scoring touchdowns.
STILL KICKING THEMSELVES
Greg Auman, @gregauman: Aguayo is the easy nightmare to offer here. Any position that seems lacking for another five years, Bucs fans will say "if only we hadn't traded up into the second round to draft a kicker." Lots of picks fail badly, but few as visibly as this one.
Tom Jones, @tomwjones: In most scary movies, we know who the bogeyman is. Michael Myers. Jason. Leatherface. But for the Bucs, the truly horrifying thing is we don't know what's killing their chances to each week. It's something different every game. Offense one week. Defense the next. Special teams the week after that. If there was just one thing to fix, you could work on fixing that. In the case of the Bucs, it's everything.
FOOLS RUSH IN
Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: The 2016 Aguayo pick haunts them — and will for years. It cost them a pass rusher (Yannick Ngakoue of Jacksonville went 69th overall and has 14.5 sacks in 16 career games). The inability of the franchise to address the pass rush, player after player, by free agency or draft, is a big reason this team is approaching 10 seasons with the playoffs.
THE GHOST OF AGUAYO
Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: Roberto Aguayo. Releasing him might have been the right call, but all that move did was limit further damage. The Bucs cannot recover what that decision already cost them, which was significant draft capital. As has become only clearer over time, this team was not a kicker away from sustained success. After offense-heavy drafts in 2014 and 2015, it needed help on defense. One cornerback (Vernon Hargreaves) and one edge rusher (Noah Spence) in the first three rounds weren't enough, especially in a league where plans so often go awry.
THE DOMINO DEMONS
Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: The most haunting pick this century will be Roberto Aguayo, and the trade they made to move up to get him. But think about this: if Austin Seferian Jenkins could have stayed on the straight and narrow, then maybe the Bucs could have used that first-round pick on an impact defensive player instead of O.J. Howard. Falcons DE Takkarist McKinley, who went at No. 26, has two sacks — which isn't a lot but would tie him for the team lead in Tampa Bay. That's the thing about the draft: every mistake is compounded.