Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Schedule reaction: Zimmer better be a quick fixer

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: April 24, 2014 - 9:06 AM

So how in the world do we make assumptions about an NFL team's schedule in April? Heck, even the NFL draft isn't in April anymore.

Teams aren't fully assembled, practices haven't been held and nary a bone has broken nor ligament torn.

In case we, the media, haven't beaten it into you by now, it's a violent game that's unfit for the human body. Therefore, a game on paper in the spring tends to look a tad different in reality in the fall. For example, a can't-win road game against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers on paper is but one broken collarbone from becoming a blown-opportunity tie against the Packers and Scott Tolzien.  

But we are allowed to have initial thoughts, so here's the primary one that jumped out at me after the Vikings schedule was released Wednesday night:

If Mike Zimmer really is the self-proclaimed `fixer,' he better be a quick fixer.

The toughest part of the schedule -- ON PAPER -- comes in the first five weeks.

A season-opener on the road, even if it is St. Louis, is never good (see: at Detroit, 2013). And then things get really tough.

Until the Vikings prove they have a quarterback and can stop the other team's quarterback, a good place to start evaluating their schedule is at the quarterback position. And Weeks 2-5 features Brady followed by Brees on the road; followed by Matt Ryan and a presumably healthy set of giant, skilled receivers; followed by Rodgers on the road on a short week (Thursday night).

If Zimmer's defense isn't fixed by the time the Vikings return from St. Louis, it may be broken beyond repair by the time Week 6 rolls around.


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