I’m guessing the Vikings get it straightened out at Washington on Sunday, and coach Mike Zimmer will regain his adulation from the local sporting public.

That won’t change the belief that Zimmer has been what my favorite aunts would refer to as a “strange duck’’ in his third Minnesota season.

There was Zimmer’s ridiculous behavior when Teddy Bridgewater warmed up for the first exhibition, didn’t play, and the coach refused to offer a meaningful explanation.

This was a petulance we hadn’t noticed from Zimmer in his two prior seasons.

Last month, there was the odd introduction of toy stuffed cats into the locker room when his team was 5-0 — apparently as a warning to the players not to be “fat cats.’’

The cats were then mutilated, with Zimmer pointed to as the source for that in the Star Tribune. Apparently, the slasher was someone else, and the newspaper made a correction.

This didn’t satisfy the coach. He went on a rambling dissertation on the topic at a news conference. What he never did answer was:

“Why in the name of Les Steckel were toy stuffed cats being introduced as a motivational ploy for a group of adult athletes?’’

Then came the Norv Turner episode. Zimmer started pushing out Norv as his offensive coordinator last January when Pat Shurmur was hired as “tight ends coach,’’ but the head coach still wanted us to believe he was shocked when Turner resigned.

I blame expectations for the public change in Zimmer. He has been coaching football forever, but this is only his third season as the head coach, as the man facing the greatest burden for an NFL’s team success.

He was a hero at 11-5 in 2015. That was the minimum for this season. My theory is that big expectations add immense pressure and can turn a coach into a strange duck.

Look what happened to the Gophers’ Jerry Kill — first his thin skin, then the deterioration of his health — when facing genuine, Big Ten-level expectations in 2015.


These “should’’ be the reasons for the NFL’s decline in TV ratings:

•  Commissioner Roger Goodell is a despot who takes pleasure in stealing money from players who endanger limbs and a long life to make the owners rich.

• Every dramatic athletic feat you witness is subject to being nullified two seconds later by the revelation of a penalty.

• Netflix and Amazon have better entertainment. Spend this Sunday watching “Goliath’’ with Billy Bob. Outstanding.

Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at preusse@startribune.com.

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