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Super Bowl 50

Sun, Feb 7, 2016

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Two scary words for Matt Ryan owners: Lamar Holmes

By Larry Hartstein | Senior Analyst

Lamar Holmes gave up 76 combined sacks, hits and hurries last year. (USATSI)
Lamar Holmes gave up 76 combined sacks, hits and hurries last year.(USATSI)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was pressured -- sacked, hit or hurried -- an NFL-high 290 times last year. No other quarterback was pressured even 250 times.

Most expected Atlanta's offensive line to be much better this year. The Falcons signed guard Jon Asamoah, drafted Jake Matthews at No. 6 overall to play right tackle, replaced center Peter Konz with Joe Hawley, and reinstalled Sam Baker at left tackle following his knee surgery.

While Baker is nothing more than serviceable, the moves enabled Atlanta to bench Lamar Holmes. Now Baker is out for the year with a torn patella tendon. The Falcons reacted this week by moving Matthews to left tackle and reinserting Holmes at right tackle.

How bad is Holmes? The numbers are staggering. Playing 13 games at left tackle and three at right tackle last year, he allowed 76 combined hurries, hits and sacks, second-most in the league. He committed 12 penalties, tied for second-most. Pro Football Focus rated him 75th among 76 offensive tackles. Only Arizona's Bradley Sowell was worse.

Before Baker's injury, Holmes was "somewhat on the [roster] bubble," per ESPN.com. Perhaps new offensive line coach Mike Tice can rebuild Holmes' confidence.

Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard did not lower Ryan in their rankings. He's fifth in Eisenberg's rankings, eighth for Richard. Atlanta, with its porous defense and lack of a running game, is still going to rank among the league leaders in pass attempts.

But this is a major red flag for Ryan as he tries to bounce back from a 21-turnover season.

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