Carson Wentz shrugged it off: “I don’t put too much stock in that stuff.”
Dak Prescott shrugged it off. “I guess. Yeah. I don’t know.”
The reality is that what's going to happen Sunday has never happened before.
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Wentz and Prescott on Sunday night will become the first rookie quarterbacks who’ve already won four games to face each other this early in a season.
Wentz is 4-2, Prescott is 5-1. They’re both 23, they both started the preseason as third-stringers, and they play in the same division.
If this doesn’t have the makings of a classic rivalry, then nothing does.
Even if neither wants to talk about it.
Prescott: “It could potentially be there. It could create something that could go over time. I’ve never gotten into comparing myself to anybody. Not another rookie. Not a great quarterback that comes along. I’m not really into comparing.”
Wentz: “It’s exciting and it’s cool to see him doing well. I don’t put too much stock in that stuff but obviously he’s a divisional rival so that very well could happen for a long time.”
But let’s be honest. This is as intriguing a matchup as you’ll see between rookie quarterbacks.
Both off to historic starts, both playing in the same division.
“I think it’s cool,” Jordan Matthews said. “Obviously, Peyton (Manning) and (Tom) Brady, that’s an extremely high honor to be mentioned with those guys but I mean obviously I speak highly of Carson, I know he can be named with those guys, all he needs is more years of playing. And I also have a high respect for Dak too.
“One thing I knew about Dak is that he was going to be able to transition to the league because he had played multiple years being the guy. You have so many guys come from college, they have one good year and then they leave, so they don’t actually know what it’s like to have a full offseason where people prepare for you 24-7 and then you still come out there and put up numbers. So he has a good mindset.
“You’re talking about a guy who’s a poised quarterback, he knows what it means to be a leader, he knows what it means to be gameplanned for.
“And I feel like Carson’s the same way. The thing I love about Carson is that same ability but he also has a chip on his shoulder. So you’re talking about two guys that could potentially be like a Brady-Peyton rivalry. The only difference is that you’re going to get this two times a year and possibly playoffs. It’s a fun thing to be a part of, but I’m glad we’ve got 11.”
Prescott’s 103.9 passer rating is highest in NFL history by a rookie going into Week 8, and Wentz’s 92.7 rating is eighth-highest ever.
Prescott and Wentz both began training camp as their team’s No. 3 quarterbacks, Prescott behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore and Wentz behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel.
But injuries to Romo and Moore and Bradford’s trade to the Vikings left Prescott and Wentz leading their teams into the season.
Prescott’s five wins are the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first six games. Wentz is among six rookies who won four of his first six starts, along with familiar names Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson, plus George Shaw of the Colts in 1955.
Wentz stands 6-foot-5, 235 pounds to Prescott’s 6-2, 225. Wentz was the second overall pick out of North Dakota State; Prescott was a fourth-round pick from Mississippi State.
“I actually think they’re kind of similar,” Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “I think they’re similar as far as their build and their intelligence, as far as between Carson and Dak having a good feel for what the offense is trying to do.
“They’re really trying not to make any mistakes. They have a good feel for what is going on. They know what they have to do. They know how to move the ball. They’re just trying to move the ball efficiently. And I think those are two similar guys. Just because they got drafted at two different spots doesn’t make them very different.”
Prescott and Wentz were on opposite teams at the Senior Bowl but got to know each other a little bit at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February.
Prescott on Wentz: “Smart guy, great player, great athlete. He’s doing exactly what I thought he’d do. I figured he’d be a good player in this league, and he’s been doing well.”
Wentz on Prescott: “Throughout the process I got to know him a little bit, got to talk to him, great guy, great dude, and it’s exciting to see he’s been having some success as well.”
The last Eagles rookie quarterback to beat the Cowboys was Jack Concannon in 1964.
No Cowboys rookie QB has ever beaten the Eagles (not counting Kevin Sweeney in a 1987 strike replacement game).
Not that long ago, it would have been unthinkable for rookies like Wentz and Prescott to be having this sort of success.
But the game has changed. According to the Pro-Football Reference database, 11 of the 12 rookies who’ve won at least eight games since 1950 have done so since 2004, Roethlisberger’s rookie year.
Matthews was asked what qualities a rookie quarterback needs to have success.
“I think No. 1, you’ve definitely got to be fearless,” he said. “You’ve got to be fearless. That’s the biggest thing because they put you out there, but if your mindset is, ‘Oh, I need a couple years to get this going,’ then you’re definitely not going to be able to come in and do what you need to do.
“But the thing about the NFL that I don’t think people give enough credit to is you have to have a good opportunity. Your opportunities and then the situations that you’re put in are usually going to determine how (successful) you are lots of time as an NFL athlete.
“My wide receiver class, we all came in and everybody said this class justified everything that we ever thought about wide receivers, but at the end of the day too, before this, receivers got drafted and they went to teams that had an older guy and they just kind of eased in. Most of us came in and we were automatically the No. 1 receiver.
“When you’re given a lot, there’s a lot required of you too, you know? And just having that situation, opportunities, you’re going to actually do better.
“So you talk about guys like Dak and Carson, not only are these guys fearless, they’re great players, but also I feel like they’re also both in great situations too and they have great opportunities (and) have coaches that believe in them.”