Carson Wentz vs Dak Prescott. The quarterback debate that just never seems to end. Through 25 games of their career, the two sophomore signal-callers have plenty of similarities and just as many differences. It doesn’t matter what happens, the two will always be compared and contrasted for years to come…the unpopular opinion is that it’s okay. While that’s normal for any two players, especially at the quarterback position, to be compared so intricately, this is different.
Their paths into the NFL were different. Their upbringing, their college success, their rookie season. Ultimately, it’s a record that matters for quarterbacks. With an 18-7 record in his first 25 games, Dak Prescott has proven he can win. At 15-10, Wentz really isn’t far behind. It’s easy to get lost in stats, touchdown passes, interceptions and even #AirYards. But what really matters is how valuable they are to the team. Where would Dallas be without Dak? Where would the Eagles be without Wentz? That’s the only debate that should ever matter.
If you were to compare Andrew Luck and Derek Carr for instance, where would you begin? The incredible rookie season of Luck? His heartbreaking injury setbacks? What about Carr? His incredible MVP level campaign that was cut short by an injury, or the steady season one year later? It’s all about support. The Colts may have found their bridge in Jacoby Brissett, but the former Patriot is not able to put the team on his back in the way that Luck or very few quarterbacks are able to do.
When it comes to Wentz and Prescott, the similarities almost stop at the first season. They both were drafted as developmental heirs to the throne and they were both prematurely thrown into the deep end. The bottom line is that Dallas were at their most complete in years, while the Eagles were hampered with injury, a severe lack of playmakers, and adversity both on and off the field. One year later, the tables have turned.
As Wentz is now enjoying life with Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and a resurgent Nelson Agholor, Dak Prescott is having to deal with the loss of the dominant Ezekiel Elliott and his franchise left tackle Tyron Smith. The replacement of whom, allowed six sacks alone against the Falcons one week ago.
The Eagles have gone from a backfield led by Ryan Mathews and a receiving corps dominated by Jordan Matthews who was forced to lead as the position depleted over the season and the likes of Bryce Treggs and DGB fell unreliable, to one of the most dangerous offenses in the league who now the lead the NFL in red zone percentage.
So how valuable are Dak and Wentz when their team is in a tough spot? Both have shown the ability to fight back and win big games, both at home and on the road…with support and without it.
Prescott’s spectacular rookie season is hard to overlook. However with a full year of tape now on the Mississippi State product, teams are beginning to minimize the damage he can cause. Prescott guided the Cowboys to a 13-3 record despite the retirement of Tony Romo. Picking up right where Romo left off and putting the team on his shoulders, showing leadership in times of need and earning the respect of veterans across the league. One year later, things have changed slightly.
There’s more accountability on the shoulders of Dak Prescott, whose ability to protect the football and make smart decisions has helped keep the offense churning. With 39 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions in 25 games, Prescott enters this weekend with a streak of 119 passes without a turnover. Prescott may be many things, reckless he is not…and for an offense that’s now struggling to keep him upright, that is an invaluable trait. Throwing on the run and being able to turn dead plays into touchdowns is something that is rarely reliable…but that we have come to expect from Prescott.
As for Wentz, his second season has been the stuff of legend. An MVP caliber campaign in which he has been surgical on third down and leads all quarterbacks in touchdown passes this year with 23. The youngest QB since 1950 to throw no more than 3 picks and 23+ touchdowns in his opening nine games, Wentz has excited fans everywhere with his magical ability to evade pressure and turn into a real life super hero. A 6’5 quarterback who moves like a shifty running back, Wentz has come on leaps and bounds in year two. What really stands out most with Wentz is the visible jump on the field.
The deep ball accuracy is a non-issue in comparison to the inconsistency we saw just one season ago. His footwork in the pocket has improved more than arguably any other trait. Staying lighter on his feet and moving his lower body as he scans through his reads, Wentz is able to feel the pressure more naturally and navigate through the ever-changing landscape with ease. His work ethic, leadership and ability to make guys want to play for him shines through on a weekly basis…and being able to attract some of the biggest free agents of the offseason speaks volumes.
So, who’s better? It’s subjective.The problem with both quarterbacks is that it usually takes time for rookies to develop and become the quarterback the team drafted them to be. Both Wentz and Prescott have been so impressive so consistently, that we have taken their greatness for granted. A 3 touchdown game with 300+ yards and 0 turnovers seems almost the standard for both talents…and as incredible as that is, it can be so damaging. The weight of expectation is heavy…and that expectation will only rise as both teams look to become established championship contenders for years to come.
Their roads may be different, but somewhere along the line their situations have intertwined and the circumstances have magnetized. As the two prepare to lock horns for the third time of what will be many in their career, the comparisons will only grow in abundance as time goes on. People will desperately search for stats to define who really is the better quarterback…but the truth of it all is that it doesn’t matter.
Without Carson Wentz, the Eagles would be without the heart and soul of their team. Without Das Prescott, the Cowboys would have fallen into mediocrity the moment that their legendary quarterback went down with injury once again. Their value to their respected franchise? Invaluable.
What’s the trait for determination? The statistic for leadership? The analytic for “in the building at 5AM”? The grade for “loves to break down film”? Some things you simply cannot settle through words or numbers. In this very scenario, two bitter, bitter rivals may be graced with some of the finest quarterback talent in the last ten years. Quarterbacks who have captivated the hearts of many and will do so for the next era of Football.
Who is the better quarterback? Some weeks it will be Carson Wentz, some games it will be Dak Prescott. We may not find a definitive answer for the next five seasons, we may never find it. But the joy and the honor is in being able to talk about both quarterbacks so glowingly. The future of the Philadelphia Eagles. The future of the Dallas Cowboys. The next generation in a rivalry that has lasted for generations and will continue to do so will now be headlined by two of the youngest, most exciting quarterbacks in the league…and everyone should be absolutely okay with that.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports