Seeking a repeat as super bowl champions, the Hawks began their 2014 regular season plagued with injury and also struggling to retain chemistry within their locker room. But despite their rocky 3-3 start, the Hawks were able to find their stride in week 7, only a game after ridding themselves of the distraction that was WR Percy Harvin. They would go on to record nine victories in their last ten games. With the defense healthy and the ability to return to their essential “ground and pound” mentality, the Hawks managed to claim the number one seed atop the NFC.
Essential to their success was RB Marshawn Lynch. Following his participation in a training camp holdout at the beginning of the season, the influence of RB Marshawn Lynch within the Hawks offense was widely questioned. But after witnessing another season of subpar OL blocking it became blatantly evident that Lynch was a crucial part of the Hawks offensive success. Lynch’s ability to shed tackles is irreplaceable and his 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground marked his 4th straight season with a rushing performance that surpassed 1000 yards and 10 TDs. These efforts earned Lynch his title as Sportymort’s 2014 regular season Offensive MVP. In regards to value on the other side of the ball, the Hawks MLB Bobby Wagner was just as influential in helping the Seahawks to return to excellence. Despite missing almost a third of the entire season, Wagner ranked second on the team in tackles with 104, making him my Defensive MVP. Wagner’s efforts were complimented by a breakout season from OLB Bruce Irvin. Accounting for both of the teams pick six’s, a forced fumble, and 6.5 sacks, Irvin was the defensive sparkplug that generated positive momentum for the Hawks on more than one occasion. Irvin’s quality season has since earned him the title as Sportymorty’s Breakout Player of the Year.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
After a dominant season in which the Hawks produced the number 1 rushing offense and overall defense, it is clear that their strengths remain the same: capitalizing on the Beast that is Marshawn and allowing the fewest yards in the NFL. Unfortunately, their weaknesses were just as evident; penalties and blocking. Awarded the title as 2014’s most penalized NFL team, it often seemed as if the Hawks committed a penalty on every third play. Accounting for a vast majority of those penalties while struggling to protect their QB at times, the offensive line needs to play with more consistency.
Now that the playoffs are underway, it’s time for the Hawks to make their 12 wins count as they face off against the Carolina Panthers in the NFC divisional round this Saturday at Clink.