If you were here last season, you might remember my post-game “Toasts and Roasts” series. I reviewed the Green Bay Packers’ previous game and would toast the highlights of the game with a good beer of my choosing and would roast the lowlights with a beer I deemed not very good. This series has been put on hiatus this season due to other post-game commitments I’ve had but I thought this week I’d bring it back for a little mid-season toasts and roasts review.
With a first year starting quarterback and a team as young as the Packers are, it’s obvious that 2023 would have many ups and downs. Sitting at a record of 5-6 at this point certainly isn’t ideal, however, it’s not at all terrible either. After all, it shouldn’t be all that surprising all things considered. Nonetheless, we’ve had our share of positives and negatives to take away so far. So, let’s get to it.
Here are your Packers Mid-Season Toasts and Roasts:
When Jayden Reed was drafted, many saw him as a slot receiver to line-up in between Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. “He’ll help stretch the middle of the field and be a good number 3 receiver,” is just one of the quotes I recall reading. How about close to number 1 receiver come mid-season? In 10 games, Reed has 32 catches for 463 yards and four touchdowns. He’s behind only Romeo Doubs in targets and touchdowns, but he has more receiving yards than Doubs by 67. Not to mention his five carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. Reed has been a Swiss-army knife for the Packers as he can do it all. You’ll see him take a carry from the backfield, run short routes up the middle, and fly down the field for a deep ball. Reed is in the running for top-producing 2023 draft pick for the Packers and at the end of it, he could be the top producing offensive weapon all together.
I’m toasting Jayden Reed with the Chocolate Lava Cake Stout from State of Brewing. Some don’t understand it, but I’ve always been a fan of dessert beers. To me, they’re the type of beer you can sit back and relax after dinner with or just before bed. They’re usually a thick richer beer with a high alcohol content which is perfect for a night cap if you’re a beer enthusiast. Chocolate Lava Cake Stout has that rich chocolate taste with vanilla and a hint of cherry. My wonderful wife was kind enough to bring this beer home for me from Aldi one day and I didn’t know what to think. A beer from Aldi? Most beers I’ve ever had from there aren’t as good, but when I took a taste of this one, I was pleasantly surprised. It is delicious, and I want more of it whenever I can get it.
Jayden Reed gets the Chocolate Lava Cake Stout because he too has been a pleasant surprise this year for the Packers. Slot receiver, not very tall, we didn’t really know what to expect except for maybe just being our third or fourth receiver. I don’t think many of us expected him to be as good as he has been, and therefore like the Chocolate Lava Cake Stout, we can’t wait to get more of it whenever we can get it.
Say what you want about the play of the Packers’ new signal-caller. His stats may not be that terribly impressive, but they’re not exactly terrible either. You could say Jordan Love is kind of in the middle of the pack stat-wise for NFL quarterbacks. He’s had his throws that have been dimes right on the money, and he’s had those where you wonder exactly what was he thinking? But there’s one thing that has stood out to me with Jordan Love this year and it’s his composure. You can maybe sense a little bit of frustration when he makes a bad decision, but for the most part, he’s been a pretty cool customer. The stage has not been too big for him, and I believe he can grow with this team to be good starting quarterback for a few years into the future.
For Jordan Love I’m toasting a New Glarus Spotted Cow. It’s a Wisconsin staple. Spotted Cow is a blend of Pilsner malt, white wheat, and caramel malt. The water used to make the beer comes from a well on the brewery property and has a hard character to it. The Hops are the finest Saaz the brewer can get during selection each year in Europe, and it’s fermented with a German ale yeast. It’s a smooth reliable beer that Wisconsinites have turned to for a long time.
Jordan Love gets Spotted Cow because so far this season, he’s been that smooth, reliable leader that this young team needs. Like Jordan Love as a Quarterback, Spotted Cow isn’t the flashiest beer, but it absolutely gets the job done, and like Spotted Cow, hopefully Wisconsinites will be enjoying Jordan Love for many years to come.
What is it with our defense allowing open season for opposing running backs? Three times this season the Packers defense has allowed 200+ rushing yards to opponents. In rushing yards allowed total, this team ranks 26th in the league before Thursday’s matchup with the Lions. We hear constantly about how we’re going to be more physical; we’re going to be stouter on the defensive front, yet it doesn’t happen. This season we’ve also seen the continuation of two down-linemen on the field in rushing situations. This ends exactly how you imagine with a running back in the defensive backfield before you even blink. Of course we’ve had Matt LaFleur’s explanation that the outside linebackers become defensive linemen in this situation, but in my humble opinion, they play too wide on the edge in these situations to adequately impact runs between the tackles on every down.
For the run defense, I must do my favorite roast beer from last season. And that is, Bud Light. There’s an irony to this one though. It’s not just that this is Wisconsin and drinking Bud Light should be outlawed, but it’s the deception that comes with Bud Light. They claim they’re the “King of Beers.” Some that drink it claim that it’s just the best beer you can have. They say it gets the job done. But anyone that knows beer is well aware that this just isn’t true, and it’ll never be true unless they somehow change it.
That’s exactly what the run defense has been. A deception of being good. A deception that the way they do things is the answer. Well coaches, your run defense the way it is, like Bud Light, will never be the answer. It’s time to change the way you do things if you ever want it to be.
In the end
If there’s one thing this team has shown me this year is that they can improve. They have many tools to do so as well. Soon this very young offense will have the experience under it’s belt to be a well-seasoned offense. It’s driven me crazy that the Packers didn’t bring in a veteran pass catcher for Jordan Love, as I feel like that would’ve given him a bit of a reliable security blanket target in rough situations. I still think that would’ve been nice for earlier in the season, but now that we’re well in to the second half, it’s time for the young guys to step up and provide that blanket. 11 games down at this point, 6 more to go. If there’s one thing this season should be used for, it’s experience. Get that knowledge and experience so that next year when all those weapons have an entire year together, they can turn into a well-oiled-machine for the next one. Go Pack Go
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.