KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It happens after almost every time Jawaan Taylor plays in a nationally televised game; he’s accused of false start by fans.
The Kansas City Chiefs right tackle has gone through this experience as far back as he can remember.
The former Jacksonville Jaguar times his get-off so well with the quarterback’s cadence (the way that Patrick Mahomes will call out audibles, offensive line protections and the snap count) that it looks like he’s moving before the ball snaps.
In reality, he’s moving exactly with the ball most of the time.
“It’s all cadence,” Taylor said. “We use a little more cadences than we did in Jacksonville so just been practicing those since OTAs and training camp getting good at them, getting comfortable with them because had them down pack in Jacksonville.”
He said he’s been timing his movement like that for years and referees don’t even talk with him about it. They do mention his alignment when he may be too far deep into the backfield.
Every offensive lineman is supposed to have their helmet in line with the center’s waist.
“Just getting out my stance with urgency,” Taylor said on Thursday. “These rushers are good so if you can get one step ahead with using the snap count to your advantage, that would be better for you.”
There are four basic rules for legal offensive formations: Seven players must be on the line of scrimmage; the two players on the end of the seven have to be eligible receivers; no player can be out of bounds, and no player can be in the neutral zone.
Taylor has had 39 accepted penalties against him in 67 games according to Pro Football Reference going into the second game of his fifth season.
Sixteen of those penalties were false starts (tied for third among offensive linemen during his first four years) and 19 were for holding, first among offensive linemen during that period according to TruMedia (from The Athletic).
He’s only had one illegal formation penalty in 2021, one of two penalties in that game that the Jacksonville Jaguars were penalized for having tackles lined up too deep into the backfield.
Taylor admits to mistiming his jump on the Chiefs’ last offensive drive during their season-opening loss to the Detroit Lions and to being too deep in the backfield at times.
“Just trying to correct that in practice this week and be better with it,” he said.
The reason this technique becomes an issue is because the NFL game is already catered for the offense to score points and this gives offensive linemen just one more advantage over the defense. Taylor only allowed one quarterback hit, two pressures and no sacks against Detroit.
The Chiefs will need more of that from their highest-paid offensive lineman who must protect Patrick Mahomes.
“It’s a very big advantage,” Taylor said.
“You already have a great quarterback back there and then having a cadence, a bunch of cadences that can set ’em back a little bit too just knowing that ‘we gotta contain this guy, we gotta be able to keep him in the pocket, keep him from throwing the ball’ so adding cadence on top of that just knowing how great he is and what he can do, it’s amazing.”
With this technique, Taylor will surely continue to be penalized for false starts because he is human and will mistime the cadence every now and then. And whenever the Chiefs play in a game with a bigger spotlight, this issue will continue to be brought up.
And if the refs don’t call it, Taylor will continue to be a few steps ahead of opposing defensive lineman.