McMullen: It’s Cowboys vs. Eagles not Dak vs. Carson
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - This isn't boxing but that hasn't stopped many from boiling down Sunday night's key NFC East matchup between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys into Carson Wentz vs. Dak Prescott III.
In the sweet science, they say styles make fights. In team sports, stars generate interest and Wentz realizes the hype surrounding the two second-year quarterbacks is a good thing for the rivalry and the NFL as a whole but he also understands his night will have nothing to do with the opposing signal caller.
"At the end of the day, we're playing the [Dallas] defense," Wentz explained. "I'm not playing Dak Prescott. I'm playing the Cowboys' defense and as a team, we're playing the Cowboys. I don't look into [the comparison between Prescott and himself] too much. I really just focus on what we can do to beat this defense."
The obvious stated Wentz and Prescott are likely going to be tied together for years as rookie starters from the same draft class, the former with the better pedigree as the No. 2 overall pick and the latter with the better start to his career due to landing in a better circumstance, at least to start.
Prescott led his team to a 13-3 season as a rookie and made the Pro Bowl but by year 2 Wentz has taken the lead and is a serious MVP candidate for the 8-1 Eagles.
Both are really good and Wentz seems on the fast track to greatness.
"I don't honestly pay any attention to comparisons," Prescott said on a conference call with Philadelphia area media on Wednesday. "I don't like to compare myself to anyone. I don't pay attention to that but it's hard when Carson is playing the way he's playing and the Eagles are as hot as they are to not see and not pay attention to his stats and what they're doing."
To date Prescott still has a slight lead from a numbers perspective through 25 games, compiling an 18-7 record while completing 66 percent of his passes for 5,661 yards and accounting for 50 touchdowns (39 through the air and 11 on the ground). His most impressive stat, however, might be just eight interceptions so far.
Wentz, on the other hand, is 15-10 as the leader of the Eagles while completing 62 percent of his passes for 6,044 yards and 41 TDs (39 in the air and two on the ground). He, however, has 19 interceptions but only five so far this season.
As a fourth-round pick pushed into action due to injury Prescott had a much better supporting cast in 2016 while the Eagles have clearly closed the gap on that this time around.
"You know they're linked together so that's natural, that's human nature," Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "But I can assure you right now the only Cowboys that Carson is worried about or thinking about are those four guys up front and those secondary players. He's not at all thinking about what kind of game Dak's going to have."
Reich admitted Prescott was one of the quarterbacks the Eagles brought to the NovaCare Complex to interview during the 2016 pre-draft process before focusing in on Wentz and making multiple trades to get into a position to draft him.
“I had very, very high grades on Dak in every aspect,” Reich said. “I thought his college tape was really, really good. I really liked the way he threw the ball, his timing, and anticipation. When he came in here and we sat down and interviewed him, it was really high in all areas. Then you could just tell he had that X-factor as far as natural leadership ability."
Wentz and Prescott also got a chance to interact during the pre-draft process as well.
"He's a great dude," Wentz said. "Obviously, he's a good leader and he's done well."
The mutual admiration society will take a break in North Texas this weekend but no matter the outcome both the Eagles and Cowboys will leave AT&T Stadium secure in the knowledge that they have really good young quarterbacks.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen