Lamar Holmes vs. Greg Hardy
The Falcons’ offensive line has played poorly most of the season, and the chief culprit, among many, has been current left tackle Lamar Holmes. He took over the position (moving over from right tackle) after Sam Baker went down with an injury prior to Week 3, and it’s been a train wreck ever since. He’s managed an overall -19.4 grade this season, allowing two sacks, six hits, and 29 hurries on his quarterback. His run blocking has been equally bad, with just one positive grade in seven games, and an -8.0 for the year. The near-constant pressure allowed by Holmes and co. on Ryan was noticeable against the Cardinals, and it led to Ryan’s worst performance of the year.
On Sunday he will be going up against primarily Greg Hardy (+8.6), who rushes from right end 82.9% of the time, although he will move inside on third down sometimes. With 29 of his 34 total pressures having come from defensive end, including all six sacks, it has been good enough for a Pass Rush Productivity of 11.8 (eighth overall among 4-3 ends). Hardy has been an especially complete player in this, his fourth year, as one of only two 4-3 defensive ends in the league with a grade over +1.0 in pass rush, run defense, and even coverage. When he does come out or slide over to tackle, Mario Addison typically takes his place, and has provided some very good third-down pressure from the spot, having generated 11 pressures in 75 pass rush snaps. With Charles Johnson (PRP of 13.8) manning the left end, it may be difficult for Atlanta to give Holmes much help in pass protection.
Middle linebacker and 2011 third-round pick Akeem Dent is the “veteran” of the group, but is also the lowest-rated defender on the team at -5.7, and his Tackling Efficiency isn’t much better than his teammates at 7.5. Besides having to deal with the dynamic playmaking ability of Cam Newton, the Falcons’ linebackers will also have to contend with running backs DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert. Tolbert especially is having a terrific season (+6.4), coming in often on third downs and having filled in nicely for the injured Jonathan Stewart to complete the Panthers’ dual-threat backfield. If these three Panthers maintain the level of play we have seen from them in recent weeks, they could make it a very long day for the Atlanta linebackers and defense as a whole.
Doesn't really tell us anything we don't already know. What we need to see is the same as the last 3 weeks. Come out and beat an inferior opponent. We didn't create the schedule, all we can do is win the games we should. I love the new mantra in the lockerroom about the division games "count as 2" and the focus they've placed on winning the division.
I look forward to another very good game for the Panthers.