One of the great debates around Dallas Cowboys’ Quarterback Dak Prescott is if he deserves to be discussed among the NFL’s elite players, and if his next contract should be on their level. Fair or not, some are going to look at how he performs today “against” Aaron Rodgers as part of those discussions.
I say “against” with a certain sarcasm because it’s not like Prescott and Rodgers are going to ever be on the field at the same time today. These aren’t two NBA players guarding each other throughout a game.
Still, don’t we tend to look at it that way? We come away from big NFL games comparing how the quarterbacks performed as if they were the ones playing defense, or looking their records against certain other passers over the course of a season or career.
Tom Brady never once tried to sack Peyton Manning, nor did Steve Young ever cover one of Troy Aikman’s receivers. Still, we talk about those rivalries as if they were Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
Granted, opposing quarterbacks can impact on each other. Failing to get much yardage on a drive, or especially turning it over, can set up the other team’s offense for an easy scoring opportunity. Keeping the game competitive can push a team to pass more, which can boost stats but also open the door for more interceptions or sacks.
But what we really focus on is the only number that matters at the end of the day; who added another win to their team’s record?
Both Dallas and Green Bay are hungry for a win today. They’re each coming off their first loss of 2019 and trying to maintain order in their respective divisions.
Just as hungry are the Cowboys and Packers fans who had to watch those losses and who see the Eagles, Giants, Bears, and Lions within striking distance. The sting of last week and the concern of the weeks ahead will amplify the response to today’s outcome.
Of course, Aaron Rodgers has more cushion than Dak Prescott. That’s what comes from a Super Bowl ring, multiple MVP awards, and just an overall outstanding body of work.
Rodgers can take a loss today and many will chalk it up to WR Davante Adams being absent, or just dismiss it as a road loss against a quality opponent. He has that kind of clout with his fanbase and throughout the NFL.
Dak just isn’t there yet. A loss today and the “told ya so” brigade will be out in full force, pointing at Aaron Rodgers and railing against the notion that Prescott is an elite QB or even close to their ranks.
Of course, Rodgers has little to do with how Prescott performs. Dak’s day is going to come down to how Cam Fleming holds up at left tackle, if Michael Gallup’s return is a difference-maker from last week, and if the Cowboys can find the run game again. It could swing on just a few critical moments with the decisions Prescott makes or whether or not he delivers a catchable ball.
So no, #12 for the Packers won’t be out there rushing the passer or playing deep safety. But if Prescott’s team doesn’t get the job done today, many are going to talk as if Rodgers was shutting Dak down personally.
Such is life for an NFL quarterback. Until Dak Prescott has his own skins on the wall and the goodwill that comes from them, he will face this kind of imbalanced scrutiny often.
Let’s hope that today’s game shuts some of his doubters up.