Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor saw his fame rise more than any other player during last week’s NFL opener against the Detroit Lions, but not for good reasons.
As the Chiefs squared off in what would eventually be a 21-20 loss, many viewers, including some players, started noticing that Taylor was moving a step ahead of seemingly every player on the field as the ball was snapped. Additionally, they noticed he was lined up well behind the line of scrimmage, despite NFL rules requiring his helmet to be in line with the center’s belt line.
The alleged violations became loud enough that the NBC Sports broadcast was pointing them out during the game. Those critics finally got their justice when Taylor was called for a false start on a last-gasp fourth-and-20.
One week later, Taylor responded to those critics by saying he actually lined up his jump with the quarterback’s cadence, which looks like a false start to the naked eye. Indeed, a frame-by-frame look into at least one play bears that out: Taylor and the ball start moving simultaneously.
The former Jacksonville Jaguars starter, who signed with the Chiefs on a four-year, $80 million contract in free agency last offseason, claimed no NFL official has ever warned him about these kinds of false starts, though he did admit he had been talked to about where he was lining up:
“I haven’t had a ref even really mention it to me. Just go out there and play. But I have had refs mention my alignment, so just make sure I’m not too deep. If you look at it, to the eye it may look like a false start, but you slow it down on film, I’m moving the same time the ball moving. Just getting out my stance with urgency. These rushers are good, so if you can get one step ahead with just using the snap count to your advantage, that would be better for you.”
You can look at some other Taylor jumps here if you want to be the judge.
While most fans believed Taylor was getting away with penalties nearly every play, J.J. Watt and some other NFL players noted that many offensive linemen do what Taylor was doing with less infamy. Green Bay Packers All-Pro David Bakhtiari was apparently feeling enough heat about it last Thursday that he joked about it.
None of this is new with Taylor, though, as some of his early starts in a playoff game between his Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers frustrated Joey Bosa enough that the Pro Bowler threw his helmet in disgust and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Now, Taylor is set to face the Jaguars in Week 2. Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said Taylor did the same snap count timing during his time in Jacksonville and praised his anticipation, while indicating he hopes the refs might be a little more strict than they were last week:
“I’m sure they’ve been notified after that first game on Thursday night. Again, good player. We know who he is. He did the same thing here. He has great anticipation with the snap count. Optimistic our crowd will be loud and if they use a silent count, he does a great job of getting off the ball there too. If they don’t call it, they don’t call it. There’s only so much you can say.”
The Chiefs and Jaguars play at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Jacksonville.