They were on the 14th hole at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, New Jersey, and Berkeley’s patented chirp was just getting louder.
The two close friends and Giants teammates were on opposing teams in this matchup, and Barkley’s tandem was 4 up with five games to go. It was an opportunity to close.
That is until Jones’ tee shot landed 40 feet from the cup on the par-3, and he coolly sank the uphill birdie putt to lead his team to victory on the hole and ultimately the match.
Jones barely blinked after even the putt.
“I’m a good money potter,” Jones told ESPN with a laugh recently when asked how he handles the pressure.
Jones now needs to find that money stroke on the football field. That’s the expectation for whoever signed a four-year, $160 million contract this offseason. Initially, the return on investment was low.
He entered Week 4 22 in QBR as the Giants sat 1-2 with the fewest points scored (43) in the NFC. Jones and the New York offense had little to do against the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers and played a good half against the Arizona Cardinals.
Money only makes him a bigger target.
“A lot of guys who make all that money don’t even deserve it,” the 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw said after a 30-12 loss to Jones and the Giants.
Greenlaw was one of several Niners to take a swipe at the quarterback after the game.
“Yeah, I guess some people like it where they feel the need to do it,” Jones said. “It’s okay. It’s part of it.”
Jones has a shoulder strain when the Giants host the Seattle Seahawks on “Monday Night Football” (8:15 ET, ESPN). The Giants need a win considering an upcoming road trip that includes matchups with the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.
Jones — who is 1-11 as a starter in prime time — almost certainly will be without Barkley (ankle) for a second straight game, a tall task considering the Giants went 11-for-49 rushing for 29 yards in his absence. in September. 21 damage.
It only took Seconds later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Jones’ name. 6 overall pick in the 2019 draft for the former Duke star to appreciate the expectations and pressures associated with playing quarterback for the Giants.
“As soon as I got drafted, you’d do the media for two hours, and I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Jones said.
“It’s a whole different ballgame coming from college football to the NFL and certainly a different ballgame in New York.”
Add to that the new contract, and suddenly those tight-window throws became more scrutinized. When he misses, as he did in the season-opening 40-0 loss to the Cowboys, a game in which Jones had a QBR of 8.2, criticism won’t be hard to find.
“That stuff is going to happen regardless,” the wide receiver Sterling Shepard Says “It doesn’t matter. Nobody here gives a damn about all the outside stuff or what outsiders think because they don’t know what it’s like to be in this position. There’s no point listening. To that stuff.”
Jones usually doesn’t. He does a good job sheltering himself from the outside world. In fact, he once told ESPN that he barely knew there was a firestorm outside the building unless it was told to him by his mother.
And when she knows, she finds a comfortable routine that helps her cope. Jones talks to a sports psychologist weekly, and uses his family as an additional sounding board. He also does yoga regularly.
Jones, 26, said she does it to get “perspectives from people I trust and different things to think about that I don’t immediately think about.”
The fifth-year quarterback also rarely uses social media — he’s posted three on X this year — and his in-season engagement on Instagram is an occasional ad or promotion.
“One way or another, there’s going to be a story,” Barkley said. “He’s the quarterback of the New York Giants. It’s tough when it comes to the media. The way he is, knowing Daniel intimately or watching him from the outside, that’s the kind of person he is. His work ethic, that’s what made him for this moment. “
Jones made huge strides last year under coach Brian Double and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. He finished sixth in QBR at 62.9 after never coming close to the top 10 before. He performed particularly well down the stretch, throwing nine touchdown passes and just three interceptions in the final eight games of the regular season before a dominant performance in the wild-card round.
That’s why the Giants have put so much on Jones’ plate this season.
“He’s very consistent in his approach, really since I’ve been here,” Double said. “Where it’s in OTAs, the first game of the season, the Monday night game, he’s here early, he’s meeting the players. He’s a very organized person. He doesn’t get high. He doesn’t get low. He’s very steady. He works on things. He focuses on what he can do and meets the other players quite a bit.”
Money only adds to the equation. Jones is guaranteed $82 million over the first two years of the deal and will play in one of the NFL’s largest markets.
“He doesn’t need to apologize that his best year was at a time when they needed to be redone [his contract]” said former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, who backed up Eli Manning with the Giants from 2005 to ’07. “It’s not your fault. You don’t need to apologize for that. No question [the money] the part [the criticism]But I’ll also argue for him to play the way he wanted to last year, not everyone can do that.
Jones probably was He had the best game of his career in last season’s wild card round when the pressure was at its highest. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to record 300-plus passing yards, 2-plus passing touchdowns and 70-plus rushing yards in a playoff game.
The Giants beat the Vikings 31-24 for their first postseason win in more than a decade. Jones was 24-for-35 passing for 301 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing 17 times for 78 yards. That helped land him that massive contract, which now ties him among the highest-paid quarterbacks at $10 million, an average of $40 per season.
Jones is easily the Giants’ highest-paid player, so when things get tough, he’s the lightning rod.
“Nah, man, at this point, we’ve done it all,” the wide receiver Darius Slayton said “[The 40-0 season-opening loss to the Cowboys] Was pretty bad but, s—, 4-12 [in 2021] It was pretty bad. We’ve been through a lot at this point and for him, he’s carried it forward.”
Jones’ first career start in 2019 featured a dramatic comeback in Tampa Bay. The Giants trailed by 18 points and he ran for the game-winning touchdown with 1:16 left. It was during that drive that Jones, normally soft-spoken, stepped into the huddle and announced “Let’s go score.”
Giants fans may be echoing that sentiment.
After a shutout loss to the Cowboys, Jones and the Giants faced a 20-point halftime deficit against the Cardinals. The 60 points the Giants allowed before scoring their first point of the season was the second-most unanswered points to start a season since the 1970 merger and the most since the 1978 Baltimore Colts (86).
Jones completed 17-of-21 passes for 259 yards and added eight rushes for 58 yards with two passing touchdowns and another touchdown by himself against Arizona in the second half. He struggled just days later on Thursday night, throwing for 137 yards with an interception against the 49ers.
Check out the even-killed Manning’s comps here.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity to ride a roller coaster in the NFL if you will, and I think he refuses to get on it,” the tight end said. Darren Waller said “If you look at, are we, 60-0 in our first six quarters? There’s turnovers, there’s drives that aren’t getting there, and it’s just like, you don’t see him wearing it, you don’t see him pointing at other guys or Don’t look to get mad on the sidelines. It will eventually work out for us as long as we keep engaging with the process and trying to do things right.
“And that energy has paid off [in Arizona]”And that’s something you can pursue.”
With more money comes the reality that there is additional responsibility and pressure on the quarterback. Suddenly, in a salary cap league where Jones is projected to be 7% of the cap this year and 18% next year, there’s less money to go around for the supporting cast.
Jones will need to play well for the Giants to win. That was proven again in the first three games of the season.
“Pressure puts, on the football field, free throw shooting, whatever, it’s his daily life, his values,” Barkley said. “He’s made for anything.”