Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott both debuted in 2016. Here's how they compare as quarterbacks
PHILADELPHIA – The debate began almost as soon as Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott began their NFL careers as starters on opening day in 2016.
Wentz had the higher expectations as the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. But Prescott, a fourth-rounder that year, had the expectations that go with being the starting quarterback for the Cowboys.
So it is interesting to compare the two quarterbacks four seasons into their careers as Wentz and the Eagles get ready to play Prescott and the Cowboys on Sunday night.
Even Wentz admitted that he has tracked Prescott's career. Sort of.
"Obviously, we’re in the same division, so I’m pretty clued in to what’s going on with everybody in our division," Wentz said. "So, yes, naturally, would be the answer."
Prescott told reporters who cover the Cowboys about being a divisional rival with Wentz: "Something that’s always fun. Something we’ll be able to always, every matchup, look back and say what’s our record against each other or this vs. that.
"Something that will always be cool to track. A guy that’s done really, really well in his career. Credit him for what he’s doing, what he’s done. But I like our chances this Sunday."
For the record, Prescott is 4-2 against the Eagles. He has completed 63.6% of his passes with 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. His passer rating is a mediocre 83.2.
Wentz is 2-3 against the Cowboys. He completed 67.2% of his passes, with 10 TDs against just 1 interception. His passer rating is 100.
There are many other ways to compare the two.
If you go by money, Wentz has the big contract, signing a four-year extension worth as much as $128 million with $107.9 million guaranteed this past June.
Prescott, meanwhile, is eligible for free agency after the season. There's a chance his next contract, whether it's with the Cowboys or someone else, will exceed Wentz's.
It won't necessarily be because Prescott is better. Rather, it'll be based more on demand.
But money isn't everything.
Stats don't tell all
At this point in their careers, Prescott has the better overall stats. His record as a starter is 35-19. He has completed 66.5% of his passes with 78 touchdowns and 31 interceptions, with a passer rating of 96.8.
Wentz has a career record of 26-20. He has completed 63.4% of his passes, with 82 TDs and 31 INTs. His passer rating is 92.7.
This season, both quarterbacks are 3-3, a record neither is happy about. The Cowboys began the season 3-0. During that time, Prescott threw 9 TD passes against 2 INTs, and his rating was 128.0.
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Over the last three games, Prescott has thrown 2 TD passes against 4 INTs, and his rating was 82.7.
Wentz has also had his ups and downs this season. He threw for 313 yards and 3 TDs in the season opener against Washington. He threw two touchdown passes of 50-plus yards to DeSean Jackson.
But Jackson was injured in the first quarter the following week against Atlanta and hasn't played since. Since then, the long pass plays have pretty much disappeared from the Eagles' offense, other than with running back Miles Sanders on wheel routes.
After Jackson's injury, Wentz had two games with less than 200 yards passing, although the Eagles won both games.
Wentz threw for 306 yards last week in the Eagles' 38-20 loss to the Vikings. But the Eagles trailed 24-3 early in the second quarter, and Wentz had to throw. Wentz completed two passes that went for 30 or more yards. Both went to Sanders.
"We’re taking our shots," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "We are going to keep taking our shots and be aggressive. We have to hit more of them."
Still, many Eagles fans will tell you that Prescott has it easier because of running back Ezekiel Elliott. Since the start of the 2016 season, Elliott leads the NFL in rushing yards with 4,539, and yards from scrimmage with 5,877.
Elliott was the Cowboys' first-round pick that year, at No. 4 overall, going two spots after the Eagles took Wentz.
Is Dak getting his due?
Even Eagles cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Cowboys, from 2008-17, didn't seem to give Prescott much credit when asked about Dallas' offense in general.
Whether intentionally or not, Scandrick listed pretty much every position on offense except the quarterback.
"Dynamic offense, dynamic receivers, Hall of Fame tight end (Jason Witten), amazing offensive line," he said. "A lot of good, complementary players. When they’re clicking on all cylinders and they’re executing, they’re a good football team over there."
Eagles coach Doug Pederson seemed to indicate that his team is more focused on stopping Elliott than Prescott when asked how Prescott has evolved over the years.
"I still think he's effective," Pederson said. "But I don't know their offense. I don't know how they're coaching the position. I don't know any of that. Just what I see on tape. Obviously (Elliott) is a big part of that, and that run game and play-action pass.
"I still think he's a good passer and he can definitely beat you with his legs."
But Prescott is throwing more this season.
He ranks third in the NFL with 1,883 passing yards, and is sixth with a 102.9 passer rating. He has thrown for more than 400 yards in a game twice this season. Prescott did it just once in his first three seasons. That came against the Eagles last Dec. 9, when he threw for 455 yards in the Cowboys' 29-23 overtime win.
Prescott has thrown six interceptions. Only five quarterbacks have thrown more. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said all of that is part of Prescott's evolution.
"One of our goals as an offensive team is to be balanced and attack both in the run game and in the pass game," Garrett said. "When we play our best offensive football, we're able to do that. We have great confidence in Dak. He started for us from Day 1 his rookie year, and has really done an outstanding job. I think he's grown as a player every year."
Not much playoff success
Wentz has never thrown for that many yards in a game. He has thrown for 1,458 yards this season, which ranks 15th in the NFL. But he's fourth in TD passes with 12, against only 3 interceptions. His passing rating is 94.3, which ranks 19th.
"He’s just a really good player," Garrett said about Wentz. "It's easy to see why he was picked so high in the draft and why they’ve made him their franchise quarterback. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s athletic. He’s tough. Can make all the throws. He plays the game the right way.
"He’s gotten better and better, like most quarterbacks do. But he certainly came into the league at a high level and continues to get better and better each year."
The elite quarterbacks are judged on their playoff success, something neither Wentz nor Prescott has experienced.
Prescott has played in three playoff games, going 1-2. The Cowboys haven't advanced past the Divisional Round.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have won four playoff games in the past two seasons, including the Super Bowl.
But Wentz hasn't played in any of those postseason games. In 2017, the Eagles were 11-2 and Wentz was having an MVP-caliber season when he tore the ACL and LCL, and watched backup Nick Foles lead the Super Bowl run.
The Eagles were 5-6 under Wentz after losing to the Cowboys last December. That was when Wentz was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back and missed the rest of the season. Foles once again led the Eagles to the playoffs.
For now, the Eagles and Cowboys both need a victory. To them, that is more important than the quarterback play.
"It’s the Cowboys," Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We just had a bad taste in our mouth, and this can give us a good taste."
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.