Chiefs Starter Could Be Under Close Watch After Ex-NFL Official’s Criticism

Jawaan Taylor, Patrick Mahomes

Getty Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor protects Patrick Mahomes II in Week 1.

Lost in the commotion of Kadarius Toney’s struggles and the Kansas City Chiefs’ letdown second half performance vs. the Detroit Lions was a controversy involving starting right tackle Jawaan Taylor.

Throughout the game, many on social media argued that Taylor was starting his pass protection sets early — yet the officials were keeping the “false start” flags in their pockets.

In the end, the result was a solid pass protection outing for Taylor according to Pro Football Focus, with a 68.7 grade and just two pressures allowed on Patrick Mahomes II despite going head-to-head against rising star pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson. Don’t assume Taylor will be able to get away with his strategy in the future, however.

After the game, ex-NFL official turned CBS Sports rules analyst Gene Steratore blasted the officiating from the regular season opener, calling Taylor “egregiously off” on his timing. “If one of those happens, you call it right away,” he explained. “Usually there’s a warning, you have a conversation with the huddle, a coach. But [Taylor] was egregiously off… Once [he] started getting away with it, he became even more off.”

That bit of public criticism from Steratore may not alter Week 1, but it will likely put Taylor under the microscope in Week 2 and beyond. If he’s lined up incorrectly or leaving the line of scrimmage early, a different officiating crew might take a different stance — and it could lead to Chiefs penalties on offense.

Ex-NFL Official Gene Steratore Labels Chiefs’ Jawaan Taylor a ‘Wakeup Call,’ Details TNF Controversy

Steratore did go into further detail, explaining what officials typically look for when it comes to false starts at the offensive tackle position.

“In the real world and a normal Sunday, officials do prep and should prep for these kinds of matchups between the tackle [Taylor] and pass rusher [Hutchinson],” Steratore began. “It’s a pretty normal process.”

“When I would have Julius Peppers or Dwight Freeney against a rookie left tackle, you know that was gonna be a matchup to watch,” he went on. “You go to the Hall of Famer and remind them — ‘No helmets and hands in the neutral zone today.’ You look at the rookie and say — ‘Hey, big man, stay on the line today.’”

Finally, Steratore noted: “Rarely do offensive linemen move at the exact time the center moves his snap. It’s usually a fraction of a second delay. If it’s timed perfectly, it will feel fast to viewers. So, officials can tend to lean away from that. There’s an element of, my eyes might be tricking me a little. Am I going to sit here and shutter-speed, frame-by-frame officiate all night?”

“But then again, where is that line? [Taylor] did beat the snap a few times, but there are nuances with that,” he concluded. “Everybody is moving at a much higher speed. Officials had yet to see that level of speed this season. The speed factor is there now. It is a wakeup call.”

Chiefs Offense Has Plenty to Clean Up in Week 2

Outside of Mahomes and a few bright spots like Rashee Rice or Justin Watson, most Chiefs players underperformed on the offensive side in Week 1.

The WR drops and lack of separation took the brunt of the blame after the loss, but there were other issues that flew under the radar too. For starters, the run blocking was pretty poor all across the board. Joe Thuney, Trey Smith and Creed Humphrey had average grades on the OL, but new tackles Taylor and Donovan Smith really struggled in this department according to PFF.

The veteran left tackle, Smith, didn’t put together great film in general with a team-leading seven QB pressures allowed (two QB hits) — and Taylor was very clearly tipping play-calls with his stance.

At tight end, Noah Gray had a decent blocking effort but veteran Blake Bell and youngster Matt Bushman both struggled in that regard. The running backs and receivers didn’t really add much in pass protection or as run blockers either.

In terms of the actual vision and elusiveness on the ground, Isiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire both averaged under 4.0-yards per carry, and the play-calling from the coaches wasn’t much to write home about. So, yeah, there’s a lot to figure out for Andy Reid and company heading into Week 2.

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