Can Dak Prescott go from best in the East to best in the NFL?

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Can Dak Prescott become the best quarterback in the NFL under Mike McCarthy?

Dallas Cowboys fans can officially breathe easier now that Dak Prescott has signed his franchise tender. In locking in a $31.4 million salary for the 2020 NFL season — unless the two sides can agree to a new long-term deal by the July 15 deadline — the franchise tag ensures Dallas Nation will have the best quarterback in the NFC East for at least one more season.

At $31.4 million, he’s the second-highest-paid quarterback in the division on a per year basis, behind only Carson Wentz who is earning an average of $32 million per year. The division’s other two quarterbacks, Daniel Jones (New York Giants) and Dwayne Haskins (Washington Redskins) are earning an average of $6.4 million and $3.6 million per year, respectively, although both are still on their rookie contracts.

All four quarterbacks in the NFC East have immense talent and potential but when it comes to judging the best in the division, it’s currently only a two quarterback race between Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz.

Simply put, we just don’t have a big enough resume to judge Daniel Jones by. There’s no doubt that Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has talent. But he also only has one year under his belt as a starting quarterback and in that year he committed a whopping 30 turnovers (12 interceptions and 18 fumbles) in just 13 games. He’s got potential but he’s not ready to be in the conversation with Prescott and Wentz.

Then we have Dwayne Haskins who was drafted by the Redskins with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Haskins had an underwhelming rookie season and enters 2020 with a lot to prove to new head coach Ron Rivera. Haskins is potentially playing for his job this season so no way is he ready to be compared to Prescott or Wentz.

So like I said, when it comes to judging quarterbacks in the NFC East, it’s really only Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz. Both quarterbacks came out in the 2016 NFL Draft and will likely be compared to and judged by each other’s success as long as they remain in the same division. So who has the edge?

Comparing Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz

Looking at their stats over the past four years, the two are pretty similar.

In four seasons, Prescott has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 15,778 total yards and 97 touchdowns, while throwing 36 interceptions. He’s appeared in three playoff games, winning just one of them in 2018. He has a 97.0 career quarterback rating. But his lack of playoff success and struggles against teams with winning records have led to doubt about this ability to lead Dallas to a Super Bowl.

Wentz, meanwhile, has compiled a 92.7 career quarterback rating, throwing for 14,191 yards, 97 touchdowns and 35 interceptions while completing 63.8 percent of his passes. However, despite the Eagles’ postseason success in recent years, Wentz has had very little to do with it.

In their 2017-18 run, which culminated in the Eagles defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, it was backup quarterback Nick Foles who led the team to victory. Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14 of the season, opening the door for Foles.

The talent has never been a question with Wentz, it’s always been his durability. While he played all 16 games in 2019, he was banged up for a lot of them. You can’t question his heart but there’s only so much punishment the body can take which is why right now, the Cowboys are in a better position at quarterback.

Dak Prescott has his flaws but he’s also proven himself more than capable in handling the reigns. For as much as Cowboys fans dump on him, Dak Prescott is, hands down, the best quarterback in the division. He even has the potential to be one of the best in the league. He’s talented, he’s durable and he’s proven he has what it takes to at least win a playoff game.

In his four years as the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Prescott has consistently been in the top half of the league in most major passing categories. Last season, he was second in passing yards (4,902) and fourth in touchdowns (30). With even more talent surrounding him, there’s a good chance he’ll repeat this success.

But even with these impressive stats, Prescott still takes a backseat to quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. The reason for this is probably because their resumes feature several high-profile wins. We all know quarterbacks are judged on their team’s success.

For Prescott, Dallas has been a roller-coaster, never seemingly able to reach the apex and it’s one of the reasons hardly anyone considers him to be a top five quarterback in the league. It’s why the Dallas Cowboys can’t seem to agree on his worth.

If there’s been one question about Dak Prescott throughout his career, it’s whether or not he’s a product of a talented Cowboys offense or the victim of uninspiring coaching. Do we attribute his success to one of the best offensive lines in the league with some of the best skill players in Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott? Do we blame his struggles on Jason Garrett?

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We’ll get a better idea as to the true quarterback Dak Prescott is with new head coach Mike McCarthy. Hopefully he continues to improve under new guidance. If anyone can fix his flaws, it’s the quarterback guru. Right now, there’s no question he’s the best quarterback in the NFC East. Let’s hope McCarthy can push him to become one of the best in the NFL.