The Kansas City Chiefs signed former Jacksonville Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor to a lucrative four-year contract on Monday and announced that it was possible that he would be the team's new left tackle moving forward.
Taylor, a four-year veteran from Florida, showed improvement every year of his professional career but excelled in pass protection, especially during the 2022 season.
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence attempted 584 passes — which ranked seventh in the NFL — while Taylor's new quarterback Patrick Mahomes attempted 648 (third in the NFL).
Mahomes is the MVP, and Lawrence is an ascending star, so it makes sense that both teams would need a tackle who has shown to be a high-level pass protector. Taylor would have even played in a system similar to the one Andy Reid runs, playing for Doug Pederson in 2022, a long-time Reid assistant and former Chiefs offensive coordinator.
The coincidences would continue even further in 2022, with the AFC West and AFC South teams slated to play one another. This meant that both the Chiefs and Jaguars offenses would have games against common opponents, including the Las Vegas Raiders and their star defensive end Maxx Crosby.
Maxx Crosby vs. Kansas City
Crosby has been a thorn in the Chiefs' side since he entered the league in 2019. After going back and reviewing the film, Crosby tallied three sacks and a whopping 14 pressures against the Chiefs in 2022.
These performances drew praise from many, including Andy Reid, who complimented Crosby and offered praise.
Reid mentioned Crosby going against former Chief Andrew Wylie (who signed a new contract with the Washington Commanders to open free agency), and while he offered his praise, Wylie struggled, allowing all three sacks and most of the pressures.
MAD MAXX MAKING AN IMPACT!— Coolbet Canada (@CoolbetCanada) January 7, 2023
Maxx Crosby gets to Patrick Mahomes, forcing a @Chiefs punt!#ChiefsKingdom 24 | 6 #RaiderNation
Total Sacks O 4.5 (+110) ✅ https://t.co/oHr5Vqzlq0#NFL
The combination of size, strength and athletic ability that Crosby played with gave Wylie issues. Mahomes attempted 50 "true pass attempts" — traditional pocket passes excluding screens, run-pass options (RPOs) and jet sweeps — in two games against the Raiders. Wylie matched up with Crosby on 44 of these plays.
Of those plays, Wylie received help from a chip block or the alignment of his tight end 22 times, exactly half of the total true pass-blocking situations.
Current free agent and left tackle at the time Orlando Brown only squared off against Crosby six times in true pass-blocking situations during 2022, and through the two games against the Raiders, he received help from chip blocks or tight end alignment 19 times.
Brown was primarily matched up against former All-Pro Chandler Jones during the first matchup, but Jones did not play in the second matchup.
Of 50 true pass-rushing downs against Crosby and The Raiders, the Chiefs' tackle received help 55% of the time (Wylie) and 38% of the time (Brown against players other than Crosby). While they would go on to win the Super Bowl, the Chiefs wanted to clean up their tackle play this offseason.
Jawaan Taylor vs. Maxx Crosby
Entering the Week 9 matchup with 6.0 sacks, Crosby was looking to continue his hot play. Taylor had other plans, handling business early and often.
Jawaan Taylor vs Maxx Crosby Week 9— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) March 14, 2023
-22 pass blocking downs
-15 1v1 snaps + 7 with help (chip/TE alignment)
- Of the 15 solos Taylor won 12 allowing just two pressures
-Anchor & Recovery vs the power was nice to see pic.twitter.com/gGezx79ee2
Of the 22 true pass-blocking downs, Taylor won 19 total plays, and of the 15 one-on-one plays, he lost only three times and allowed just two pressures all game. Crosby finished without a sack in the contest.
Taylor received help on just 32% of his plays against Crosby, and it was clear early on that he was comfortable on an island.
Taylor is more athletic than both Wylie and Brown, and he used this in his favor to vertically pass set and match the athletic edge play from Crosby.
Crosby initially wins the inside hands + leverage and starts to bull Taylor into the pocket. Taylor does a great job to anchor his feet and re-establish his inside hands stopping the rush. Pops his feet and sinks his hips in unison. pic.twitter.com/b9cxIJJxRI— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) March 14, 2023
Crosby could not win using his athletic ability around the edge, so he decides to try to win with power. He comes hot off the snap and out-leverages Taylor initially. Taylor realizes this and uses his anchor to slow down the bull rush. He pops his feet back and sinks his hips, regaining power and creating leverage to stop Crosby in his tracks. A clean pocket and the ball is off from Lawrence.
The technique and fundamentals displayed by Taylor show a fluid player and one who is able to take on the best pass rushers in the game.
Drive and catch is smooth, Taylor has some good forward lean and keeps his weight on his inside foot. Keeps his hands tight and gets a shot on Crosby's shoulder. Pushes him past the pocket giving Lawrence a lane to throw. pic.twitter.com/URTx2TAIvz— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) March 14, 2023
Taylor's weight distribution is impeccable. Off of his drive and catch, driving off the inside foot and catching with the outside in pass protection, Taylor keeps his weight and power on the inside foot while remaining light on the outside. His sets are short and choppy, which helps him keep balance and redirect quickly. When Crosby gets to the arc (the point of attack for the offensive tackle and defensive end), he attempts to hand swipe and rip the edge, but Taylor lands a well-timed strike and easily pushes him up the field and forms the pocket around Lawrence.
It isn't a devastating block, but it is more than enough to consistently get the job done.
The bottom line
Taylor brings natural pass-blocking ability that Brown and Wylie lacked over the course of the last two seasons.
While he did receive help in some instances against Crosby, it should be noted that the one-game assistance average for Wylie (44%) was far greater, while Brown was similar in terms of help at 36% but played far fewer snaps against Crosby than Wylie and Taylor.
While it still feels up in the air if Taylor will become the Chiefs' new starting left tackle or remain on the right side, the team is paying for a player who can consistently be left on an island against some of the game's elite pass rushers.
Taylor was excellent against Crosby in 2022, and it looks like this will be a fun matchup to watch moving forward.