Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 12/7/12
TEMPE, Ariz. Early Doucet remembers when achieving mediocrity gave you a good chance to win the NFC West. Since the Cardinals joined the division before the 2002 season, four of the 10 division winners have had a 9-7 record or worse -- capped by Seattles 7-9 mark in 2010 -- and only three division winners over that stretch have managed more than 10 wins. The NFC West hasnt produced two playoff teams in the same season since 2004, and the division hasnt produced a Super Bowl champ with its current alignment; the AFC West is the only other division without a Super Bowl champ over that 10-year time period. Both of those facts may be altered this season, with the 49ers a legitimate contender for the title and the Seahawks currently sitting in the NFCs final wild-card spot. Times have changed, said Doucet, now in his fifth season with the Cardinals. We knew that this division was only going to continue to get betterm and thats what youre seeing this season. Were not a division to overlook anymore. You even got St. Louis beating San Francisco. Anything can happen. Defense has certainly played a role in the divisions sudden uptick. All four NFC West clubs are currently ranked among the NFLs top 12 in total defense. But Arizona is proof that defense alone cant do much. At the risk of repeating ourselves, the common denominator for the 49ers, Rams and Seahawks improved standing is quarterback play. The 49ers are perhaps the only club in the NFL with two legitimate options at QB -- Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith -- and they are in first place. The Rams Sam Bradford struggled earlier in the season, as did his club, but his improved play of late has St. Louis within a half-game of .500 and still in the wild-card chase. Then theres Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson, whom Seattle drafted in the third round -- five picks before the Cardinals chose cornerback Jamell Fleming. While Smith still has the NFLs third-highest QB rating at 104.1, and Kaepernicks 96 rating would be ranked seventh if he had taken enough snaps, Wilson is just a shade behind him at 95.2, the seventh-best rating in the league among qualifiers. Wilson owns a 63.4 completion percentage with 19 TDs and eight interceptions this season. But in his last four games, Wilson has nine TDs and zero interceptions with 778 passing yards and 170 rushing yards. How much has that meant to the Seahawks' resurgence? I think its everything, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. Last year, they had a mobile, athletic quarterback in (Tarvaris) Jackson, but they didnt go far. Id put it all on (Wilson) the quarterback position is so important that he gets the lions share of it. A lot of teams passed on Wilson despite a sensational senior season at Wisconsin in which he threw for 3,175 yards with a 72.8 completion percentage, 33 TDs and just four interceptions. Unfortunately for the fan base, the Cardinals were one of those teams (although it should be noted the club did not have a second-round pick, and theres no telling how Wilson would have meshed with the Cardinals system and personnel). With Russell playing so well at quarterback for us, it gives us the hopes that we can really build on this young group of guys, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. We hoped that we would have the dynamic football player -- that the terrific kid as a leader would show up, and it has. I have always looked for guys that are unusually gifted and talented, and I didnt care what size they were when they were that unique. Its impossible to predict career arcs for Wilson and Kaepernick. Neither has played enough games to declare their selections an unmitigated success for their clubs. But the NFL is all about the now, and the depressing reality therein is that three NFC West teams have varying degrees of stability at quarterback and one does not. You dont need to guess whos who. Its reflected in the standings. The truth is, every team in the NFC West is now ahead of the Cardinals in terms of development because every team in the NFC West has a better situation at quarterback than the Cardinals. Feeling depressed? Well, take heart. Things could be worse. You could be rooting for the Jaguars. In that same 2012 draft in which Wilson went in the third round, Jacksonville selected its third player of the draft five spots before the Seahawks. The Jags' selection: Bryan Anger. Hes a punter. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message


Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker