7-9 reasons these Seahawks are better

The Seattle Seahawks' 58-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday was big around here.

Not just for the historic margin, either.

It was big because it killed a running joke on the NFC West blog, one Seahawks fans couldn't escape since the 2011 season finished. No matter how much progress Seattle appeared to be making, fans from other teams could point to consecutive 7-9 records as evidence the team was mired in mediocrity under coach Pete Carroll.

The victory over Arizona left Seattle with an 8-5 record. Even a disappointing finish would leave the Seahawks with a record better than 7-9. This will surely come as a relief to some.

Comments sections have overflowed at times with gratuitous references to the numbers seven and nine. Those in the know would either laugh, roll their eyes or bristle.

We even put together an entire post on the subject back in May.

"49ers have won 5 super bowls since '79," 49ers5bowls wrote.

"Pete Carroll's drag racing team nailed a 7.9 quarter mile," unislaya added. "Nobody believed it, so they asked him to do it again."

"Pete Carroll finished P90X in 79 days," EDTGO piled on.

"We were 7-9 in year 1, we improved to 7-9 in year 2 and I think we can be an even better 7-9 team in year 3," was how Lock.Down put it, claiming to be paraphrasing Carroll.

References to the number 58 might be more appropriate from this point forward. First, though, let's look at 7-9 quick reasons why Seattle is better this season:

  • The GM: General manager John Schneider led the way as Seattle defied convention by using a third-round choice for quarterback Russell Wilson.

  • The coach: Carroll had the guts to start Wilson over Matt Flynn when the decision appeared risky.

  • The QB: Wilson himself has made the biggest difference on the field. He has 15 touchdowns with three interceptions over his past eight games.

  • Health: Seattle has been healthier this season than in the recent past. Having left tackle Russell Okung and receiver Sidney Rice in the lineup consistently has helped.

  • Young talent: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had two more interceptions Sunday, giving him four on the season. Fellow rookie Bruce Irvin collected his eighth sack. So many other recent draft choices are contributing, including middle- and later-round picks. Cornerback Richard Sherman was a fifth-rounder in 2011, for example.

  • Big returns: Thanks to Leon Washington, the Seahawks rank third in kickoff return average. That is up from 10th last season. The improvement has been 3.55 yards per return.

  • Real McCoy: Seattle appeared to miss Kellen Winslow Jr. early in the season. The lesser-known Anthony McCoy has increasingly become a factor as a receiving tight end. He showed up when needed during a victory at Chicago, and again with a 67-yard reception Sunday.

  • Ryan's impact: Punter Jon Ryan was already good, but he has quite possibly been even better this season. His net average is 41.7 yards, a career high. Seattle has downed 47.4 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line. That is up from 35.8 percent last season. Other factors can influence the percentage, but the more, the better.