Through three weeks, no NFL offensive lineman has been called for more penalties than Kansas City Chiefs’ right tackle Jawaan Taylor. According to PFF, he has been flagged eight times this season. No other lineman has tallied more than six penalties.
The most recent cam in Sunday’s Week 3 matchup against the Chicago Bears. In that game, a penalty for illegal formation wiped out a big touchdown pass.
Afterwards, head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes expressed concern that Taylor was being “picked on” by the officials, pointing to other players lining up with similar depth behind the line of scrimmage.
Speaking to our Pete Sweeney in the locker room on Wednesday afternoon, Taylor clearly appreciated the gestures.
“I love the support,” he remarked, “but I’m going to continue to clean up my end. [I’ll] keep being professional and helping my team go out and win games.”
Taylor didn’t even want to point a finger at the zebras.
“I wouldn’t say ‘picked on,’” he said. “I know I have to clean it up — so I wouldn’t just blame the officials.”
Of the eight penalties called on Taylor, three have been for illegal formation. Three others were false starts. After getting almost all the way through the Week 1 game without a penalty for his quick get-off — while NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth repeatedly referenced it — he was called for a false start during the game’s final drive. The penalties have snowballed since then.
“When the penalties come, that’s unfortunate for me,” said Taylor. “I don’t want to have any penalties; I want to play penalty-free. I definitely want to clean it up on my end.”
Unfortunately, the problem masks Taylor’s bright side: through three games, he has excelled as a pass blocker. According to PFF, he has only allowed four pressures over 131 pass-blocking snaps — and has yet to allow a sack.
Reid cited the offense’s 41-point performance in Week 3 as proof that Taylor — and the offensive line as a whole — is playing well.
“He’s done good — with the exception of the penalty part of it,” noted the head coach. “When you get a lot of yards in a game, normally your line is doing okay — and the tackles are part of that.”
Reid, however, then reminded his listeners that as always, there is room for the line to get better. Taylor agrees with his head coach.
“I feel pretty good — [but] I’m not where I want to be at yet,” he noted. “I want to keep going on an upward slope, not a downward slope.”
To do so, Taylor is embracing the learning process of offensive line coach Andy Heck.
“The system feels fairly new to me, but I’m getting more comfortable with it as we go,” Taylor reflected. “[Coach] is always telling me to make sure I’m moving up — [to] make sure I’m not too deep in my set.”
But changing the way he lines up in (and comes out of) his stance — something he has been tweaking and perfecting over his five NFL seasons — will be a challenge for the 25-year-old offensive tackle. It will be both a mental and physical test.
Even if he gets the mental aspect down — and can consistently line up closer to the line of scrimmage and come off the ball a split-second later — it will also make it harder for him to protect the edge against a dynamic pass rusher.
That’s why Reid and Mahomes have so strongly advocated for Taylor — but unfortunately for him, it really doesn’t change anything. Officials will still be watching him closely — and unless he adjusts, it will continue to cost both himself and his team.
So Taylor has put his head down and gone to work, trying to clean up as much as he can. Whether it’s fair or not, Taylor knows it still has to be done.