The Chiefs didn't just struggle offensively in a 21-20 loss to the Lions on Thursday night. They also drew criticism from both fans and NBC Sports' broadcast for right tackle Jawaan Taylor continuous false starts and illegal formation.
Taylor was flagged just once in the Week 1 matchup, in which Kansas City allowed zero sacks of Patrick Mahomes, but replays consistently appeared to show him lined up behind the line of scrimmage and/or moving before the snap.
Gene Steratore, CBS Sports rules analyst and former 15-year NFL official, confirmed in an interview with CBSSports.com Friday that Taylor was "egregiously off" against the Lions, while cautioning that bigger-picture false-start concerns are more nuanced.
"In the real world and a normal Sunday, officials do prep and should prep for these kinds of matchups between the tackle and pass rusher," Steratore said. "You had Aidan Hutchinson primarily over that tackle -- he's a pretty good rusher -- and so pre-game, you're considering A.) the defensive end could try to crowd the line, and B.) the tackle may try to not be all the way up to the line. It's a pretty normal process. But if one of those happens, you call it right away. 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."
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Steratore recalls his own days officiating, when he'd have star edge rushers lined up against younger or inferior blockers. Almost always, he said, an early- or pre-game conversation helped "set the table" for smoother officiating there.
"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 said. "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.'"
It's unclear if those conversations happened Thursday night as the Chiefs took on the Lions. Even if they did, Steratore agreed Taylor was also jumping the snap. He's also of the opinion more OTs are beating the snap in recent years. Even so, that can be more of a gray area when it comes to live officiating.
"Rarely do offensive linemen move at the exact time the center moves his snap," he explained. "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."
All in all, Steratore doesn't believe it's time to overreact. It is Week 1, after all, and Thursday's opener will likely serve as a "wakeup call" to officiating crews league-wide.
"Everybody is moving at a much higher speed," he said. "Officials had yet to see that level of speed this season. The speed factor is there now. It is a wakeup call. The NFL is back, baby."