Love Never Ends

I remember Adam telling me to slow down as we walked out of church. “I want to remember every second.” This is how we treated our time together, enjoying every second.

October 3, 2009 I married my best friend and soul mate.

October 3, 2016 we celebrated our last anniversary.

Or so I thought.

Our seventh wedding anniversary weekend. It was the last weekend Adam felt well. We went on three dates, THREE! Date one, The Mixed Blood Theater to see “BBQ” on Friday. Date two, The Stripclub for Adam’s (last) steak dinner (really a four star restaurant, not an actual strip club!). Date three, we attended church together (for the last time) on Sunday morning, followed by a visit to the Highbridge in St. Paul where he proposed one hot summer day. I’ll never forget this weekend. Adam made sure it was as special as ever.

I thought about October 3, 2017 for months. What would our first wedding anniversary look like without Adam by my side? Was I celebrating seven years forever or would I celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary?

Adam was in my heart and thoughts as he is every other day. As I ate breakfast on our anniversary morning, I watched and listened to our boys run around laughing, playing together, and intermittently crying {more like screaming} as one bumped into the other too hard. Edward and Reginald, a product of our love and future. His legacy. My anchors in life.

In that moment, I felt joyful. I felt thankful for the seven full years of marriage and the love we gave to each other. This day was about memories and our commitment to love each other until death do us part. It should forever be celebrated. 

Renewing our vows on November 16, 2016. The same look of love while we are holding our two little loves.

We renewed our vows on November 16, 2016, two days before he died. I remember clearly when our Pastor took me outside in the hospital hallway before we renewed our love in front of our family. He talked to me about updating the words to reflect our vows living on into eternity. It was so beautiful, I loved the updated version for Adam and I.

On our wedding day, we wrote personal vows to each other. After the advice of our Pastor, we also used
the traditional vows so we could renew them at any wedding ceremony we attended. We vowed to love one another until death do us part. When we renewed our vows, we said “love never ends”. It hasn’t, and it doesn’t.

Some might not understand how you can love someone more every day, even after they are gone from this earth. Hell, I still get mad at Adam. Some, probably many, might not understand how you can love again after you lose a spouse. 

It is an incredible blessing and absolutely possible to love two people at once. I have been a witness to this, watching close friends who are widowed love their late husband while at the same time, honoring their legacy by loving life. Honoring their marriage by reopening their hearts to love again and grow.

A close widowed friend compared it to the love a parent can have for more than one child. When we got pregnant with our youngest, I wasn’t sure I could love another baby as much as my first. But I do!

My heart has expanded and grown in ways I didn’t know was possible. It has been able to grow because of the strong marriage Adam and I had for seven years and in my heart, continues. I will always be committed to him and remember him.

I visited Adam and brought him our two favorite beers for our anniversary. Wherever heaven is babe, cheers to our love!

This year there were no wrapped presents to give each other. No cards with personal messages and our signatures. This year, our gift to each other was our eternal love. Adam’s gift was the confidence he had in me and how he filled my love bucket every day for the entire nine and a half years we were together. The gift of his blessing for me to live and love life. His wish for me to love others after he was gone.

My gift to him was to follow through on my promise that I will be okay. My promise to be the best mom I can be to his sons. My gift was to continue honoring his legacy by writing, sharing memories of him, and finding a way to love again. I celebrated, yes! I celebrated our anniversary! This year my friends were my date and we toasted our anniversary.  

Widowed friends understand all the anniversaries and hard days like no one else. This sweet treat was sent to me by one of my amazing Widowsisters.

When we renewed our vows, a member from our church gave us this gorgeous gift with our wedding Bible verse. It hangs in my hallway, and every day I think to myself, “love never ends.”

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful. It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right. It is not irritable or resentful. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

As I sat and looked through probably 100 cards Adam gave to me over the years for our anniversary, for birthdays, and just because he plain old loved me; I was reminded of our faithfulness and fun we had with one another. It brought many tears to my face but it also brought many bursts of laughter, as I read the cards he wrote me (some even from our dog and her perspective). There was also plenty of proof Mr. Adam Paul Czech used plenty of exclamation points in his life! This card alone, had three! 

“I am the luckiest guy in the world to be married to you. If I could do my life over again, I would’ve married you after our first date so I could’ve enjoyed you as my wife even longer!! Love you! Adam

I visited Adam at his grave site over the weekend and gave him a toast with our two favorite beers. What I say in my heart every day, I will leave here for our friends and family.

I loved you yesterday.

I love you still.

Always have, always will.

No regrets.

 

Adjusting Expectations

{Susan Coyne Photography}

Becoming a widow at age 33 threw my expectations of life out the window.

There was an expectation July was going to be one of the worst months in my first year without Adam.  I didn’t want there to be much time to think about our last summer together.  Adam wanted me to live and enjoy life so I tried.

I really wanted to forget how much hope we had last year at this time because it stings so badly. A big part of me wanted to have this “new normal” that doesn’t exist, by keeping ourselves busy and making new memories so we wouldn’t dwell in the past.

See, I can anticipate when certain dates, certain seasons, certain events will be more difficult. What I didn’t anticipate, was that my grief would not get any easier. I did not anticipate that at some point my coping skills I’ve relied on so heavily would not be enough.

Lately my days have been busy filling out preschool, daycare, and screening forms for my boys. Parenting duties which were my job before, but fall all on my now. These forms ask for names of parents, emergency contact persons, and “special life events” teachers need to know about. A constant trigger and reminder  I need to talk with new teachers this year about my son’s deceased father, his coping skills, and our home life.

I am really at a loss lately. I have to dig deep to find the good in my day. I second guess all my decisions and hope I am making the right ones.

A few months ago, it felt like I was rocking this widow life. I leaned into my grief, cried, and would find the good in my day to keep going. Now I am more angry than not at cancer and the universe. Being a solo parent is hard. What is even harder, is remembering that my path to solo parenting started well before Adam passed.

This sounds harsh. It is harsh. I would yell at Adam and correct others when they would comment on how I was handling parenting and the house on my own. I wasn’t handling them on my own a year ago, not at all.

I still had Adam. He was still reading a few stories to the boys and could pay bills when I forgot. There were even good days sprinkled in after surgery where he made breakfast one day and supper the next. I was still married and wore my wedding ring with pride.

There was hope. Hope we held for more time. Hope for a miracle. Even if he only felt food a few hours a week, I had his humor and smile. I could still hold his hand and give him a kiss good night.

The truth of the matter, is that a year ago I became the primary caretaker of bills, the household (aka organizing help), and parenting. When people tell me how “strong” I am, I hear it, sometimes I own it. Other times, I silently say to myself “I have been grieving and preparing for widowhood since we learned there was a grapefruit sized tumor in his colon.

For the last twenty months I have been taking care of so many details. I am tired. I send my boys to their grandparents and I still feel tired. I feel guilty because I rarely accomplish anything other then some extra sleep. At the same time, I know to be a good parent I must take breaks. To grieve, I need time alone. I need rest.

This post was started a week ago but my body finally said “enough is enough”. What I thought was allergies, or maybe even hives from stress, turned into shingles on my left eye, face, and scalp. I have laid in bed the last few days, completely fatigued and angry because I am ill, falling more behind instead of holding my own.

It also made me realize, I got away from taking care of myself and let grief dictate what felt good in the moment. I shed more tears this summer, alone, with friends, and even in public than I have in months. The balancing ct of enjoying life and grieving is a fine art. I tried to run from my grief but grief will always find you.

The expectations I have for myself are unrealistic.  The little bit left of my logical brain knows this. Then grief rears its ugly head. The huge waves of emotions, while raising two small children leaves me mentally and physically exhausted. At 33 years old, I cannot make it through a day without a nap.

In a recent conversation with my new therapist and in my cancer widow support group, we talked about exhaustion. How in the world did I manage everything in the short year Adam was sick? I survived on a few hours of sleep at night and bits of naps during the day for most of 2016.

Caregiver adrenaline, that is how. When my therapist and group told me fatigue is very common in the first two to three years, I almost crumbled.  At the same time, hearing this helps me feel more normal. It is helping me to adjust my expectations and get back to living life day to day. Focusing on what really needs to be done. Trying so hard to hear Adam’s voice, telling me to cut myself some slack.

Again and again, I need to adjust my expectations. Enjoy our boys while they are little. Relax my mind when I think about what really needs to be done. I erased the list on the fridge and put it away where it can only be seen if there is energy for it.

Get back to the basics.

Pray.

Rest.

Choose happiness.

And throw those expectations out the window.

 

 

 

 

Choosing Happiness

(Susan Coyne Photography)

Adam often comes through to me in songs and dreams. One of the most powerful ways he connects with me is when I am writing and a song comes on the radio. As I was writing to our sons about their daddy, the song Inner Demons by artist and songwriter Julia Brennan came on the radio.

Angels, angels please keep on fighting.
Keep on fighting.
Angels don’t give up on me today.
Cause the demons; they are there.
They keep on fighting.
Inner demons just won’t go away.
So angels please, hear my prayer.
Life is pain; life’s not fair.
So angels please; please stay here.
Take the pain; take the fear.

Life isn’t always fair. I feel like I have demons inside me some days, trying to drag me down. This song speaks to me on so many levels.

The fight for those “happy-sad” moments is a real battle some days. Fighting to choose happiness. Fighting to move forward in life and let go of some painful memories because all they do is stir up anger. Cancer stirs up anger.

This ongoing war within me leaves me exhausted.  I have learned to lean into my grief now and rest. I let the guilt go for resting and listen to my widow-sisters when they tell me resting is doing something. They remind me it is what I need to be doing in that moment.

Adam used to ask me, “What do you need to get done today? Nothing, just hang out with the boys. That’s all you need to do.” So I listen to him now and remember the only thing that matters is taking care of the boys, eating, and sleeping. Really, truly the basics.

My friend took this picture of us three days after Adam died. Three days removed from us, I chose to find joy in this moment.

Every morning, I have a choice to make. To smile and find a piece of happiness or let my grief steal these little moments with my sons. No matter how small that moment might be, I will always choose happiness. My friend took this picture of us three days after Adam died. Three days removed from us, I chose to find joy in this moment. 

Finding joy every day is not easy. Anger likes to creep in. The inner demons.

What would happen if I didn’t let anger slide in at God for taking Adam from us and leaving me with a hard, lonely life some days?  What if instead, I looked at what God wants me to do now? What if I focused and prayed on what my purpose is in this next chapter of my life?

What if I stopped being angry at myself for not being the mother or woman I imagined myself being at 33 years old? What if instead, I allowed myself grace on the days that life is really, really hard? What if I truly acknowledged I have become a stronger, more confident and complete person in the wake of losing my best friend to cancer?

What if I focused within myself for happiness? What if instead, I learned to be fully content with what I’ve been given today? How would I feel if I embraced my imperfections and learned from them?

I have faith my life won’t always feel this heavy. Letting go of the anger helps me heal and resolve the guilt. It is also realistic to know my grief will always be a companion. That is the price of true love with an incredible man.

Reflecting back now, I relied heavily on my late husband too often for happiness. I think we all do when we are in a relationship. As the years go by, you become dependent on each other.

Through my grief, I am learning to be more independent. I am finding new hobbies, like writing, and carving out time to do them. I am making myself a priority more then I ever have in my life and that is important. It is important for everyone, no matter where you are in life.

One evening, my friend was in a grumpy mood. I asked him to tell me what the best three things were in his day. I kept asking him to tell me two more things until he got to ten. I then added ten more things he could be thankful for. We had a good laugh when he said, “you just made me more grumpy by asking me all these questions!” I had violated my personal rule of “Sometimes it is okay to not be okay!”

This simple conversation made me think. I truly do wake up grateful every day. Now some days I do not wake up happy AND grateful, but I always wake up grateful.

Yes, always grateful.

Grateful for my sons, their health, and their smiles.

Grateful I woke up, for my health, and for those moments in the day when I laugh.

Happiness is a choice that starts within myself, that starts within everyone. My inner demons try to pull me back from moving forward in life and living a life Adam would want for me. Yes, some days it really is okay to “not be okay.” This is reality.

But every day, I will wake up grateful. I will find a moment in my day, just one moment, to find something I am thankful for. It really is one of the easiest ways to turn my frown upside down.

All I need to do is look at my sons, Edward and Reginald.

And I will choose happiness, every time. 

So angels please, hear my prayer.
Life is pain; life’s not fair.
So angels please; please stay here.
Take the pain; take the fear.

Be Brave Mommy

Learning to be brave on Easter,
our first without Daddy.

During breakfast on a recent Friday, I started sobbing pouring cereal and making toast. I just couldn’t stop crying. Rarely do I enjoy a good cry. Who does? My tears over the last 18 months have been tears of sorrow. At 18 weeks pregnant with our youngest son, my late husband was diagnosed with cancer. Less then a year later, I was burying my forever 34 year old husband days before we would have celebrated his birthday.

My husband died at 11:30 pm on a rainy, cold Friday in November. Some Fridays, like other days of the week, the loss I feel is starting to soften but it will always be there. This particular Friday morning, it was so raw and fresh. It felt like he just took his last breath, all while it felt like he’s been gone a lifetime from our young family.

My oldest son Edward told me, Be brave mommy.” He went on to comfort me and explain “people die, Daddy is in heaven.” My three year old explaining death to me, encouraging me to be brave until I stopped crying. When my tears subsided, my always large appetite for breakfast came back. I had my coffee, ate my eggs, and went on to race remote control cars with my two sons.

I teach my son about death and grief because I have to. His daddy died and he misses him. In a few years, I will teach his younger brother about death and grief.  Many adults have not experienced the kind of loss my sons and I have. I teach my sons it is okay to be sad. Tears are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign of having loved someone so much that you miss their presence in this life. We have not lost our love, but we have lost seeing them, feeling their hugs, talking to them, hearing their voice and so much more.

I also teach him we can be happy and sad at the same time. Edward often asks me if I am happy or sad during the day. Sometimes my response is “I am sad, I miss Daddy” and other times it is “I am happy right now, but I am always missing Daddy.” He calls this “happy-sad“. What a perfect way to describe grief and moving forward in life! Three year olds really can simplify death and grief. They are amazing teachers.

In my experience, grief in my oldest child looks like it does for adults, only simplified. It shows up as anger through tantrums, withdrawal from playing with others,  being more quiet or loud than usual, and new unexplained behaviors that weren’t there before. As an adult I have problems sleeping some nights, and there is no doubt my oldest son has shown signs of needing more naps, more snuggles, and more structure around bedtime to get adequate sleep. It is a fine line determining what is grief in young children and what is their “new normal” development.

I am not a teacher or child development specialist, although I passed several of those classes in college until I declared my degree. I am simply a mommy learning about grief with my son. Be gentle with children (and adults) grieving a death, divorce, illness, or other loss. Patience is key, both in looking for patterns to determine the behavior and in dealing with them. In the last month, slowing life down and spending more time together has helped our family begin to relax more at home. Their daddy was a patient man and believed in quality time together.  This is a great way to live life with or without loss.

Brave. One word describing my husband and how he lived with cancer.

Be Brave. Two words I tell my son often when he is afraid.

Be Brave Mommy. Three words my son now tells me when he sees me feeling sad and afraid of our future.

Learning to be Brave. Four words I now try to live by every day. In the last month alone, I celebrated Easter with my sons and took them to church by myself, without their Daddy.  I booked a trip for myself to the Netherlands with my girlfriends this fall. I got a tattoo in Adam’s handwriting from our journal, reminding me of his love and encouragement.  Soon, we will celebrate Reginald’s first birthday. Another milestone in our life I will need to be brave for.

Go out in your life and really live life. Do something for yourself, do something for others. Make memories. And be brave doing the tough stuff.

 

 

CheeseheadTV Review of New Brett Favre Book – Gunslinger…

Jeff Pearlman’s new Brett Favre biography,”Gunslinger: The Remarkable,Improbable,Iconic Life of Brett Favre,” (link to Amazon) comes out this week. We got a sneak peek at the book here at CheeseheadTV and are offering up this review:

I remember being 17 years old,laying on my parent’s couch and reading Jeff Pearlman’s now (in)famous profile of John Rocker, the loudmouthed Atlanta Braves closer,in Sports Illustrated in 1999. When I finished the piece,I had two thoughts:

1.That was different.

2.That was awkward.

Fast forward 16 years and Pearlman is a unique and accessible presence in the world of online sports journalism and one of the most underrated sports biographers on the market. Pearlman’s resume includes outstanding books on the Dallas Cowboys’ 1990s dynasty,the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers and Walter Payton. He’s

a personal favorite author and journalist,one of those writers whose work you immediately click when it pops in your Twitter feed regardless of what you’re doing.

So why wasn’t I more excited to learn that Pearlman would be writing a book about Brett Favre,my favorite athlete?  Two reasons:

1.I consumed anything and everything Favre-related since the day he became the Packers quarterback. Print profiles,TV features,radio interviews,John Madden gushing over No. 4 during broadcasts — I read/viewed/listened/loved them all. What else is left to be said about Favre that hasn’t already been said? Does the world of sports media need more Brett Favre?

2.Like Pearlman’s Rocker piece,I was worried about things getting…awkward. Deep down I knew there was probably plenty more to be said about Favre than what had already been said. Because Pearlman is good at what he does,I knew he’d unearth a lot of this stuff and it was likely to be awkward. I know Favre,like all of us,is a flawed human being. But did I really want to know just how much more flawed my favorite athlete was than I originally thought? Part of me just wanted to remember the touchdown passes,the Super Bowl,the hiccup with addiction,the Iron Man streak and leave it at that.

That’s a long-winded personal intro to what is supposed to be book review. Alright,enough of me blabbing. How’s the book?

Good. Really good. A definite must-read for Packers fans,Favre fans,football fans and fans of good books and exhaustive reporting.

Within the first 20 pages it hits you just how much research Pearlman put into this effort. This isn’t a compilation of information on Favre one can easily find from existing sources. Pearlman conducted nearly 600 interviews and dug through all kinds of other sources to paint a fresh picture of Favre that includes new revelations and insightful perspectives on information that already exists.

My first concern – that the book would be a simple rehash of anecdotes and facts any diehard Favre follower was already familiar with – was laid to rest almost immediately.

How about that second concern? Did things get awkward? They sure did.

When Pearlman dives deeper into Favre’s addiction issues,his marriage to Deanna,the car wreck that nearly ended his career,how he treated Aaron Rodgers,and even how Favre’s father,Irv,treated the opposite sex,Favre fanboys might be tempted to cover their ears and scream “LA LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! LA LA LA!”

I would encourage you not to do that. And I’m one of the bigger Favre fanboys around.

Pearlman tackles the difficult topics surrounding Favre fairly. He doesn’t gloss them over. He doesn’t rub it in your face that your hero could be an a$$hole at times. Favre’s shortcomings and indiscretions are weaved into the overall narrative to paint a more complete picture of Favre than ever before. That’s not an easy task when you’re writing about a guy who legitimately saved a NFL franchise and also texted a picture of his wiener to a young NFL female reporter (yes,this incident is covered in the book).I

If I had to nitpick the book,I’d say that not much new ground is covered in the Favre divorce from the Packers. But again,there were literally thousands of journalists reporting on the ordeal and nobody has been able to siphon the full story out of any cracks in the walls at 1265 Lombardi Ave. Besides,the details and anecdotes about Favre’s childhood and early career more than make for any lack of new info from the divorce.

People often complained about Favre saturation when he played. All Favre,all the time was just too much Favre. But today,NFL ratings are down and the on-filed product is slipping. Maybe if the league still had a “Gunslinger” as the face of its league,things would be different.
 
Final rating 4.5 out of 5.
 
You can purchase “Gunslinger: The Remarkable,Improbable,Iconic Life of Brett Favre” here. (Please insert Amazon link.)

Packers Stock Report: More Lambeau Field memories edition

I don’t mean to make the Packers Stock Report all about me,but after Sunday’s performance from the hometown squad,I thought maybe we could all use a change of pace. The following is what I posted Monday Night on the Caring Bridge site I use to keep people updated on my battle with cancer.

Yes,the Packers were terrible,but I had another amazing time at Lambeau Field.

An abbreviated Packers Stock Report is at the end of this post. 

This weekend I didn’t feel well at all. I was bloated and struggled to eat and drink. Bouts of acid reflux/heartburn kicked in at random times and made me feel like I was going to yak. My energy level was up and down — one minute I felt refreshed,the next I wanted to sleep for days. Just when I thought my diarrhea was under control,it returned with a vengeance (sorry,that was probably TMI). A weird pain lingers in my stomach,almost like I got punched repeatedly in the abdomen by the 1990 version of Mike Tyson.

To top it off,the wife and I made our annual pilgrimage to Lambeau Field for a Packers game and the Packers played like East Dillon High School on “Friday Night Lights” before Coach Taylor straightened them out. Aaron Rodgers has gone from a perennial MVP candidate to the second-coming of Randy Wright. As Vince Lombardi once said,”What the hell’s going on out here?”

To put a cherry on top of everything,I managed to come down with a cold. 

Heartburn! Diarrhea! Cancer! A Packers loss! Sounds like an absolutely miserable weekend,right?

Wrong. It was beautiful.

There is nothing better in this world than being in Lambeau Field with my wife. This was our 12th Packers game together. We’ve seen the Packers beat Peyton Manning,Drew Brees and Tom Brady. We stood covered in snow as Brett Favre led a come-from-behind playoff win in a game that will forever be known as “The Snowglobe.” We’ve sat in the corner of the end zone as the Packers beat the Vikings in the playoffs,and we were in the bleachers around the 40 yard line when Matt Flynn jogged off the bench to lead to the Pack to a rallying…tie against the Vikes (oh well).

We traveled to Chicago to witness the Packers punch their ticket to Super Bowl XLV with a win over the Bears. Three days before I was diagnosed,we braved a sleet storm to see Favre’s number retired and officially welcomed back to Green Bay.  

Ok,I’m getting nostalgic now. The bottom line is this: All of those moments we enjoyed together. Hell,even if the Packers lost every game we attended 104-2,they’d still be magical memories because those moments happened with the prettiest Packers fan around. I wasn’t going to let stupid cancer get in the way of another day of Lambeau memories.

Walking to the stadium Sunday was a little bittersweet. If you’ve never been to Lambeau Field on game day,it’s a combination of Mardi Gras and family cookout. The beer flows. The scent of grilled meat hangs over the entire city. People get way too crazy for a Sunday.

That used to be Julianna and I getting way too crazy for a Sunday at Lambeau,but not yesterday. My body isn’t able to handle beer or grilled meats these days,so whenever I saw someone chugging a Spotted Cow or munching on a bratwurst,I was jealous. But before I felt too sorry for myself,I’d grab my wife’s hand as we cut through the crowd. 

Forget beer or meat. She was all I needed.

Entering Lambeau Field is like an out-of-body experience. The greatest franchise in all of sports plays here. It’s where Bart Starr sneaked into the end zone to win the Ice Bowl. It’s where Reggie White racked up sacks while a 12-year-old me cheered him watching on a snowy television back in Minnesota. It’s where Julianna was once,ahem,”overserved” at our first game together (vs. Carolina). It’s where I’d spend every Sunday if I could.

Unfortunately,the Packers didn’t create any new memories with their play on Sunday. But we still had a blast,even if we spent more time cracking wise about our favorite team’s struggles instead of standing and yelling after a touchdown. And,hey,Brett Favre made another appearance,so that was cool. Some fans would boo after yet another Packers miscue. I was in Lambeau Field on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with my love watching the Packers. The last thing on my mind was booing.

I think Julianna was a little worried I didn’t have a good time Sunday because she knows I wasn’t feeling the best. I reassured her I had an amazing time for all the reasons cited above. Here’s hoping we can do it again in the future,and this time see another Packers win.

Packers Stock Report

Rising

  • Offensive line
  • Ty Montgomery

Steady

  • Mike Daniels
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Falling

  • Everyone else

 

Packers Stock Report: Yawn…sleepy edition

If you struggle to fall asleep at night,or if you have small children who refuse to settle down long enough to take a nap,the 2016 Green Bay Packers might be able to help. Just watch some film of this year’s Packers team — especially its offense — and you and/or your kids should be sawing logs in no time. 

The Packers are boring now. I’ve spent almost as much time yawning as I have cheering during games.

For years,Packers fans have enjoyed the gunslinging exploits of Brett Favre and the big-play precision of Aaron Rodgers. On defense,stars like Reggie White,LeRoy Butler,Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson incited roars from the home crowd with big plays.

Those days seem to have disappeared. Today,Packers fans are forced to watch an offense that sputters along instead of gliding down the field. Timeouts are wasted,passes are dropped,balls are fumbled and the quarterback no longer bothers setting his feet before making a throw. At least when similar issues arose in the past,we had John Kuhn around so we could yell “Kuuuuuuuhhhhhhhn!” a couple times per game to entertain ourselves.

The defense has been solid for the most part,but it’s hard to get overly excited about containing the Jaguars,Vikings,Lions and Giants less-than-stellar offenses. And seeing Nick Perry make a play doesn’t have nearly the same magic as a Reggie White sack or Leroy Butler Lambeau Leap.

But the Packers are also 3-1. If boring gets the Packers back in the playoffs with a decent shot at another Super Bowl,I’m fine with boring. Just make sure someone wakes me up if I happen to fall asleep.

On to this week’s Packers Stock Report,which hopefully isn’t boring.

Rising

T.J. Lang
The strength of the Packers offense is the line,and Lang is probably the front five’s best player. The NBC cameras captured Lang wiping out his defender on several occasions Sunday night.

Nick Perry
A sack and six pressures…..just another day at the office for the 2016 version of Nick Perry.

Kyler Fackrell
In only 12 snaps,the rookie outside linebacker tallied a sack,a forced fumble,a QB hit and a hurry. On the season,Fackrell has nine tackles and two sacks in a very limited role. Am I being premature in listing Fackrell as a riser? Perhaps,but I didn’t expect much from him this season so what he’s accomplished so far is very impressive.

Steady

Micah Hyde
To me,Hyde is the definition of a steady player. Need him to play nickel corner,he can do that. Need him to step up and play outside,he can do that. Need a fill-in at safely,Hyde is your guy. How about a quick blitz from the slot? Hyde will deliver. Hyde might not be a game-changing player,but he makes sure the field doesn’t tilt in the wrong direction whenever he’s out there. 

David Bakktiari
Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are paid big bucks to rush quarterbacks from the edge. Neither could get to Rodgers on Sunday night,thanks in large part to the efforts of Bakhtiari.

LaDarius Gunter
He hasn’t made any flashy plays,but Gunter has been solid in a secondary that dealing with injuries. If Sam Shields is able to return to and Damarious Randall can return to form,the depth of this secondary will be a major strength heading into winter. 

Falling

Jacob Schum
Will Ted Thompson admit that he effed this one up and bring back Tim Masthay (or anybody)?

James Starks
A dropped screen pass that would have likely resulted in an easy touchdown,a near-disastrous fumble late in the fourth quarter,always bouncing runs outside…Starks was really bad against the Giants and so far looks nothing like the reliable backup he was last season.

National announcers who always praise Jared Abbrederis
It seems like every game the announcing crew takes 30 seconds to talk about how much the Packers,along with Aaron Rodgers,love Jared Abbrederis. Then Abbrederis never plays. Look,I like Abbrederis,too,but maybe it’s time to stop dedicating airtime to a player who hasn’t been a part of the Packers offense all season.
 

5 reasons the Packers will beat the Giants (and 1 reason why they might not)

My apologies for the short five reasons post today. Real life and my oldest son’s third birthday party got in the way of me writing a lengthy,snarky and only partially factual post containing five reasons why the Packers will beat the Giants tonight.

I’ll still give you the five reasons,minus the snarkiness and context. I’ll let you judge their factualness.

  1. Because Eli Manning pooped his pants whenever a pass rusher came within three yards of him during Monday’s loss to the Vikings.
  2. Because the Packers offense hopefully hit its rhythm against Detroit and will only be stronger versus New York.
  3. Because Odell Beckham will be arrested in the second quarter for committing a felony on the field out of frustration.
  4. Because Clay Matthews + a rejuvenated Nick Perry = scary.
  5. Because I’m sick of the Giants and Eli always playing the Packers tough and spoiling their plans for success.

Enjoy the game,folks. Go Pack Go! 

Memo: Ted Thompson issues orders for a successful season

CheeseheadTV has obtained a memo issued by Packers general manager Ted Thompson to the entire organization during the bye week. Because we love you,our dear readers,we’re not going to sell this valuable piece of information to one of the fancy pants mainstream media outlets that covers the Packers. No,we’re going to publish it right here. Here we go:

Dear Packers players,coaches,and everyone else:

It’s been kind of a whacky season so far. What was up with scoring all those points in the first half against Detroit,then napping through the second half? And my ears still hurt from having to listen to that gosh darn horn in that dumpy new dome when we lost to Minnesota. Please,don’t let that horn bellow ever again. Ever.

I thought we played decent at times in our final preseason games against Jacksonville. Wait…..that wasn’t a preseason game? The NFL actually lets teams as sorry as Jacksonville play actual regular season games? Huh. Learn something new every day.

Anyway,it’s time to forget about those first three games and focus on the remaining 13 and our march through the playoffs. Here’s what I want to see happen the rest of this season. If ya’ll follow these five simple steps,I believe we’ll celebrate a Super Bowl victory before I head out on my annual February scouting trip to Idaho,Wyoming and the North Pole to find the next great third-string fullback.

  • If a receiver is open,throw it to him. I have fond memories of that magical 2011 regular season when we could just launch balls 50 yards downfield and score a touchdown whenever we felt like it. That was a helluva lotta fun. But 2011 was five years ago. Teams have adjusted to what we like to do on offense,including our tendency to always look for the deep home run. Airing it out can remain a part of our offense — a big part of our offense — but I don’t want to see us ignore open receivers seven yards downfield in favor or a lower-percentage pass 50 yards downfield. I especially don’t want to see this continuing to happen on third down. Let’s move the chains,and see if we can get a better opportunity for the long ball later in the drive.
  • Stop letting receivers rack up 200-yard games. Nobody knew who Stefon Diggs and Marvin Jones were until we allowed them to each have career games. The next defensive back to allow a 200-yard game (I’m looking at you,Damarious Randall) will be punished. The punishment: You’ll have to help Dom Capers make sure every single hair on his trademark combover is perfectly in place before he heads up to the booth to call the game.
  • Nick Perry! Whatever you’ve done to make Nick Perry into a great player,keep doing it.
  • Double-helmet Shields. Remember the old 49ers center Steve Wallace? To better protect his head,he wore two helmets. It’s time Sam Shields did the same. Not only will it help protect Shields from suffering yet another concussion,it’ll also spur a new fashion trend in the NFL. Forget fancy cleats with thematic designs. The double helmet is where it’s at.

  • Quit punting. Look,I think I screwed up by letting Tim Masthay go. He wasn’t the greatest punter of all time but he was probably better that the guy I brought in to replace him (I already forgot his name…Schack? Schummer? Shank?). The only solution to this minor mishap is to make sure the new punter remains on the bench. So,score on every obsession,ok? 

Best of luck the rest of the season. 

Sincerely,

Ted Thompson
aka The Silver Fox

Packers Stock Report: That’s the Packers offense I remember! edition

I saw a lot of people on Twitter during the second half of Sunday’s Packers’ win going after Mike McCarthy for being too conservative. I don’t blame folks for slapping the conservative label on McCarthy — I’ve done it a few times myself — but Sunday wasn’t the day to do it.

Consider this:

  • Eddie Lacy was running wild. The same folks calling out McCarthy for his conservatism would’ve been calling the coach out for not feeding Lacy if the Packers aired it out more in the second half.
  • Costly penalty. A holding penalty negated a third-down conversion early in the second half,forcing the Packers to kick a field goal. If the Packers march in for a touchdown on that drive,the route likely would have continued.
  • Simple facts. With the Packers needed to kill some clock later in the fourth quarter,McCarthy called a pass play on first down that saw Aaron Rodgers fire a 12-yard comeback route to rookie Trevor Davis. The pass hit Davis right in the hands and he dropped it. If the rookie makes that simple catch,are we still calling McCarthy conservative?

Anyway,the Packers won the game and the offense looked high-functioning for at least one half,so I shouldn’t worry too much what the fine folks on Twitter are chattering about during the game. Sometimes it just bugs me because there are instances where McCarthy deserves to be criticized for being overly conservative. Those instances are often overlooked,however,because too many people blindly accuse the coach of playing it too close to the vest when that just isn’t the case.

Rising

Nick Perry
Is that Clay Matthews? Julius Peppers? Von Miller disguised as a Packer? No,it’s Nick Perry! And he’s healthy! And dominating! Would the Packers have won on Sunday without Perry? Maybe,but it would have been much more difficult.

Jordy Nelson
He might not be back to the dominant Nelson of pre-injury,but he’s caught touchdowns in every game and had several moments where he looked like the Jordy of old. That’s good enough for a spot in the rising category in my book.

Mike Daniels
Daniels doesn’t just beat the man trying to block him,he mauls him into submission then attacks whomever has the football It’s incredibly fun to watch.

Steady

Lane Taylor
Don’t expect to see Taylor replace Sitton on the Pro Bowl roster,but for a guy who entered the season under a lot of pressure,he’s held up just fine. If Taylor can duplicate what he’s done the first three games over the final 13 contests,the left-guard position will be just fine.

Eddie Lacy
When Lacy has been fed the ball,he’s usually come through. I’d say 214 yards and 5.0 yards per carry is pretty steady.

Falling

Damarious Randall
Ok,young Damarious. You’ve hit rock bottom these last couple of weeks. Time to snap out of it. I think you have the talent to do it,so let’s make it happen. Thank you.

The Middle of the Field
It’s like there’s a giant radioactive bubble in the middle of the football field that scares away all Packers defenders from entering,thus leaving the entire area between the has marks wide open for opposing tight ends and running backs to effortlessly catch passes and gain easy first downs.

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