A pre-season interview with McKay
John McKay sat down before the outset of training camp in 1976 and did an interview with some of the Tampa press on what he expected from his first year coaching in the NFL. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and the answers he gave now look quite funny in retrospect to what actually transpired.
What is your basic football theory?
In football, defensive reaction is keyed to the offensive formation and itís harder to recognise the formation when the offense moves around. Theoretically, an offense can do a couple of things before the ball in snapped for a running play. You can come out of the huddle and run. You can shift and run. Now in college ball, when you try and combine those, the clock beats you and youíre penalised for delay of game. In pro ball, you can send a man in motion and shift three or four times and still get the ball off before the whistle. Iíve always wanted to do that because it puts more of a recognition burden on the defense.
What does it takes to make a successful team?
The teams that go furthest in this game have three things Ė good players, good coaching and good morale. It takes more than athletes and coaches to win football games. It takes an indefinable something else. On a team with good morale, the players respect what the coach is doing and pull together in a common cause.
What is the talent like on the 1976 roster?
I would say that we are going to be a very representative team. By that I mean weíll be a team you better concentrate on if youíre going to beat us. Looking at the people, assessing the experience brings me to say that we shouldnít be bad. If we are a bad team, Iím going to be highly disappointed.
Why did you leave USC for Tampa Bay?
Money was not my basic reason. I had been doing that for a long time and I wanted to try something else. Iíd call what Iím doing now more of a change than a challenge. My wife and I had raised our children, We thought if we were going to change, now was the time. And the salaries you hear about are completely out of line.
Any comments on the thought of "Winning too soon"?
It would be a mistake to try and win too fast. I donít want to do everything for a victory or two when the principal idea is to build a football team.
What is the difference between Pro and college players?
After studying a lot of NFL game films, it brings me to one conclusion. The pros make the same mistakes as the college players make. They both drop the ball, they both miss blocks and they both fumble. It sort of retains my idea that football is not a perfect game. Pro players probably work harder at the game that do the college players, who have more distractions on campus.
Are there adjustments that will you have to make now you are in the NFL?
There are some adjustments to make. I guess the biggest adjustment is the evaluations of personnel. I have coached a lot of guys who are now in the pros so I think I know the type of player it will take to play in the NFL.
Any comment on past expansion teams?
The records are not that outstanding at first. Thatís something I have to accept. But if pick right in the draft and teach the players right, then we should have a respectable team. I think this franchise will be a winner.
What about the veteran allocation draft?
The quality of players presented on the lists exceeded our expectations. When you have individuals who have been starting players on the established team made available, then itís just great. We were especially pleased with the players we got for the offensive line and at running back.
What is your philosophy?
Everything in football basically originated in high school at some point. Thereís not that much new. I can draw Xs and Os on a blackboard as good as anybody. I can even do it with my left hand.