Jason La Canfora is in Seattle checking out the Seahawks this week, and you better believe that a franchise that has won 10+ games in four straight seasons will once again be a Super Bowl contender in 2016.
“Look, they’re always in contention,” La Canfora, the CBS Sports NFL insider and NFL Today on CBS analyst, said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “If you haven’t caught on that they’re one of the best franchises in the league, you’re not paying much attention. They look good. I got to see kind of the ying and the yang. There’s not that many complete teams in this league, to me. There’s maybe three to five teams that you could make a case are really truly above average and pretty good on offense and defense and special teams – and to me, this is one of them.”
Seattle, which won with defense and Marshawn Lynch for several years, relied heavily on Russell Wilson last season. Wilson started slow but caught fire during the second half of the season, finishing with 4,000+ passing yards, 500+ rushing yards, 35 touchdowns (34 pass, one rush) and just eight interceptions.
“I think because of the summer of love for Russell Wilson – marrying Ciara and getting married in London and going to Fashion Week and then possibly being threatened by her ex and starting a clothing line – we forget what this guy did the last seven weeks of last season,” La Canfora said. “Twenty-four touchdowns, one interception, a QB rating of like 135. He led the league in touchdowns, was second only to Cam Newton in interception percentage, had the highest average per attempt, had the highest quarterback rating in the league the second half of the year and kind of sort of willed this team to the playoffs when they were sitting there at 4-5 and everybody was saying, ‘Oh, Russell’s going Hollywood.’ So (they’ve got a) pretty mentally strong quarterback (and a) hell of a coach.”
That coach, of course, is Pete Carroll.
“Pete Carroll runs around these practices, and you’d swear he’s 35 and not 70,” La Canfora said of the 64-year-old. “He’s playing defensive back, he’s all over the place. And they’ve got one of the best general mangers in the league in John Schneider. So yeah, I believe in the Seahawks.”
La Canfora would believe in them even more if Jimmy Graham returns to his all-world status – he had only 48 catches for 605 yards and two touchdowns last season – but at the same time, the Seahawks don’t need Saints-like production from him to be successful.
“I really think at this point Graham is like a cherry on top,” La Canfora said. “He’s kind of what Percy Harvin became a couple years ago. Now he’s not a cancer like Percy Harvin. You don’t want to just get him out of your locker room for the sake of getting him out of your locker room. It’s not anything that significant in terms of the interpersonal politics and the sort of communal atmosphere of your locker room. But from a football standpoint, it’s kind of a luxury item. I love the group of receivers. Even the tight ends besides Graham (are good). Luke Willson came on last year. He looks pretty good. I think they have a decent enough mix of blocking guys and guys who can make plays in space. They’ve got some interesting stuff they can do here.”