Ron Martz
John McKay did an imitation Of Gen. O Douglas MacArthur Monday afternoon, waving his Cuesta Rey stogie at an army of correspondents as he proclaimed: “The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be back”.

That statement implies that the Bucs had already established a beachhead in the National League, which is not really the case. They were making noises like they were going to assault the league in a heretofore unheard-of manner. But they have been only noises so far.

McKay’s team were repulsed in their first National Football battle by the Houston Oilers Sunday in the Astrodome. Things were virtually stalemated until the Oilers' defense counter-attacked late in the game and turned what could have been a close game into a 20-0 victory.

A truer statement on the state of the Bucs than "we'll be back" was what McKay told a microphone-clutching member of the Houston media when he was confrontedwith a sneering "I thought you said you were going to win some games?"

Snapped McKay: "Houston has been in the league 6,000 years and still hasn't won a championship. We will be heard from."

But if they are, they are going to have to develop some offense that can hold onto the long enough to give the defensive enough time to catch their breath. Against the Oilers the Bucs didn't make a first down until 6:20 remained in the half. And the offense managed only 110 yards all afternoon. That's an increase of two yards over Sunday's total, thanks to a statistical error. But at that rate (1.5 yards per carry), it would take them until 1984 to beat the Oilers.

"I'm worried about our lack of offense," McKay admitted during his Monday debriefing. “I don't know if we're not any better than that or if the last three teams we played are that good defensively.

After beating Atlanta 17-3 in their third game ever with a potent display of offense, the Bucs scored 21 points against the Miami Dolphins in a 28-21 loss. Then came 10-7, 24-13 and 20-0 losses to the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals and Oilers, respectively.

"Maybe people are expecting more than what they're going to get,” said McKay, who has refused to hide behind the "we're an expansion team" shield, since he was given control of the Buccaneers.

“I think we have the players to play competitive football in this league. Some people who saw the game Sunday probably don't think it was competitive but we were in it until the last four minutes. I would like to be more competitive, though. I can't cry about the games or it will hard to walk into the room."

Maybe not cry, but at least moan. Bucs had three separate chances to score against the Oilers. Once they had a first down at the Houston 12. A holding penalty made it first and 20 and things ended When Mirro Roder field goal hit the upright and bounced back.

The Bucs also had a first down at the Houston 11. Quarterback Steve Spurrier got sacked on first down then drew an interception that was returned 50 yards and resulted in the Oilers' second touchdown. Another time, With the Bucs driving, another interception deep in Houston real estate halted the advance.

"These are the 'if only' things that you can use as excuses” McKay said. "But if you're an 'if only' team you're a sad team. If we would have kicked every time we got down there on first down it would have been 10-9. We shouldn't have kicked on first down but I didn’t even think of it."

McKay will make some changes this weekend against the San Diego Chargers in an effort to get a little more offense, the main one being to use Charlie Davis, recently acquired from Cincinnati, at tailback. When asked if he was considering a change of quarterbacks, McKay said, "Not yet."

Isaac Hagins, the kick returner who has been so much of the Bucs’ offense the last few weeks will be lost to the team at least four weeks and maybe longer with a shoulder separation he suffered while making a tackle.

"l don't think we'd play them any differently if we played them six weeks from now." McKay said of the Oilers. "But we might play them better. It would have been a definite upset if we had them because they're a top echelon ball club. They were just better than us. But we’re going to come along and be a fairly decent team."

If they find some offense.