Joseph Heller, author of the famous book Catch 22, describes the essence of the no win situation that the books title has come to represent. He does it in terms of the psychology of a bomber pilot, Orr, during World War II:
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.”
In a related way, the Chicago Tribune‘s David Haugh‘s does his own psychoanalysis of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler today.
“I didn’t address Cutler berating Chester Taylor at Lambeau Field after Taylor lined up in the wrong spot and cost the Bears a timeout because the very public outburst didn’t affect Sunday’s game. But the tantrum revealed Cutler’s impulsiveness that could hurt a Bears offense that needs more prudence than passion from its quarterback.
“One minute he’s losing his cool with a teammate, the next he’s letting the ball sail over an open receiver into the arms of a safety. I want to believe Cutler’s hair-trigger emotion and his execution are unrelated. I also want to believe there’s no connection between a half-hour on the treadmill and chronic knee pain but I would be kidding myself about that too.”
I’m not as inclined as I used to be to judge Cutler’s mental state on the field based upon his body language. Yes, he was a bit mercurial last week but his emotions have been showing through the cracks in that armor of disinterest he shows the world more and more over the last six seeks even as his performance behind center has improved.
I’m really not sure that these outbursts are a bad thing. Cutler is showing some leadership qualities that he failed to demonstrate last year and, though the form sometimes shows his immaturity, I’d rather he was being more demonstrative than less.
But admittedly its a delicate balance and in many ways it demonstrates the Catch 22 bind that Cutler is in. Like most of us, Cutler has to deal with a mass of contradictions. He’s got to show some emotional leadership but if he does that he’s not cool and collected. He’s got to be competitive and want to make plays but if he does that he’s holding the ball too long.
So what do you do? Most of us dance in the middle, trying to please everyone and in the process pleasing no one. You can’t win – no one can.
It’s a simple question of moderation. But there are no simple answers. No one knows that better than Jay Cutler.