I was going to mention Krieg, but the OP was about great first year starts. The thing about Dave was he backed-up Zorn rather successfully when he was injured. By the end of the ’82 strike season Jack Patera had been fired and GM Mike McCormack had taken over as coach, ushering in the golden years of the 80s when football minds ran the team. Mike had for all tends and purposes made Krieg his starting QB.
After hiring Chuck Knox as head coach for the following year, Knox announced “Great football players make football plays and Zorn is a great football player” and made him his starter once again. This started a firestorm of debate among fans on who should start the wily old veteran or the gun slinging back-up that masterminded the comeback win against the hated Broncos at the end of the previous season.
Believe me when I tell you these round table debates in the bars were just as spirited and fiery as any we have now over Wilson and Flynn. But Chuck stuck to his guns and Jimmy went on to try to capture the magic of bygone years.
Alas age, injuries, and scheme had robbed Zorn of his most potent weapon, his legs, not unlike the Seahawks of today Ground Chuck wanted to establish the run, then use play action pass to throw deep. This certainly wasn’t Jim’s forte; he was a much better QB outside the pocket or on the run. So after a mediocre 4-3 start and a truly bad game against the Raiders (for a win though) Knox was forced to start “Hambone” who went on to lead the Hawks to their first and most improbable play-off run ever to be seen in the Pacific Northwest.
Of course the debated didn’t stop there despite leading the Seahawks deep into their first play-off appearance the season before. Dave’s, soon to be famous, propensity to fumble, an inability to score in the second half of a New England game, and a truly bad game against the Raiders had fans calling for his head, even though Zorn did come in that game and play just as poorly and Krieg had compiled a 4-2 record.
The debate was hot and heavy for awhile (well a short while)as Krieg went on a eight game winning streak, fumbles, INTs and all, leading them to their second play-off run only to have their hopes destroyed in Miami.
Jim Zorn , the face of the Seahawks, was sent packing the next year to start his vagabond tour of the NFL and CFL teams and Dave Krieg went on to throw his way into miracle wins and fumble his way into heartbreaking loses, all in all having a great career filling the record books here and there.
So to the fan that didn’t live through the Krieg years and simply scanned his stats, they would naturally come away thinking he was Seattle’s greatest QB and perhaps he was. A scrapper that could win a game in the fourth quarter or just as easily lose one with an untimely fumble, never as good as the great QBs of his era and not as bad as most others, the fans for some reason never held him with the reverence they did with Jimmy.
In hindsight I suppose the fans never knew what they had till it was gone since the Seahawks tried, and for the most part failed, to find another leader like Dave despite his warts. It took another decade, three coaches, and a new owner to finally have another Allpro QB (with my apologies to Warren Moon, but a real Seahawk QB).
And that’s how this one fan remembers the Dave Krieg years and why sadly he probably wouldn’t make this list…
"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis."
Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
(St. Augustine of Hippo)
"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."