An end of an era came in the NFC East with the announcement that Eli Manning was retiring from the game of football yesterday. Manning, who was the starting quarterback for two Super Bowl-winning New York Giants teams, ceded his job to Daniel Jones in the early part of the 2019 season and will now ride into the sunset of what many believe to be a Hall of Fame career.
There was a time, not long ago when the NFC East featured an array of experience at the quarterback position. Eli Manning with the New York Giants, Tony Romo with the Dallas Cowboys, and Michael Vick with the Philadelphia Eagles each had long tenures of NFL experience. The current makeup of the NFC East is much different.
Eli Manning was arguably the most durable quarterback in the NFL during his tenure as a starter with the Giants. He started 236 regular-season games and 12 postseason games and never once sat due to an injury. He was able to accomplish that while playing behind some not very good offensive lines, especially later in his career. While it’s easy to dunk on Manning because of all of the turnovers, one thing that can’t be questioned is his toughness. We don’t often talk about Manning as one of the toughest quarterbacks in the NFL, but his record speaks for itself.
With Manning’s retirement, Dak Prescott becomes the most experienced starting quarterback in the NFC East. Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz have both been in the league since 2016, but Prescott has started every game of his four-year career; 64 regular-season games and three postseason games. Wentz has played in only 56 of a possible 64 regular-season games and has missed both of the Eagles’ playoff runs in 2017 and 2018 due to season-ending injuries. He started the Eagles playoff game this season but was forced to leave due to a concussion after just four attempts.
The New York Giants will now hope that Daniel Jones is the real deal and can have a tenure as long as Eli Manning’s was as a starting quarterback while the Washington Redskins have put their eggs in a 2019 first-round draft pick as well; Dwayne Haskins.
Both Jones and Haskins have a lot of promise, but time will tell if they are the answers for their respective franchises. The Cowboys and the Eagles, however, have found their franchise quarterbacks in Prescott and Wentz.
The Eagles locked up Carson Wentz last offseason to a long-term extension and the expectation is the Dallas Cowboys will do the same this year.
Of the four quarterbacks projected to start for their franchises in 2020, Dak Prescott looks to be the player with the best shot to match Eli Manning’s longevity as a quarterback.
Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins absolutely have the potential to be really good to great NFL quarterbacks, but still have more to prove. Carson Wentz is one of the 15 best quarterbacks in the NFL, but injuries have limited him to just two full seasons in his short career.
That leaves Dak Prescott.
Prescott has gotten better each season he’s been in the NFL and asserted himself as one of the better passers in the NFL in 2019. With more refinement to his game and a more aggressive approach with Head Coach Mike McCarthy and Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, it’s possible that the best Dak Prescott is yet to come.
Prescott is now the elder statesmen in the NFC East. There’s no telling if he, or any of the other quarterbacks in the division, will be a part of two Super Bowl Championship teams like Manning was, but Prescott has the best shot to match Manning’s tenure as a starting quarterback.
Experience matters and now the Dallas Cowboys have the most experienced starting quarterback in the NFC East. Hopefully, that will one day translate into Lombardi Trophies.