Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 10/2/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. The Minnesota Vikings understood the low expectations from outside the organization. During training camp, linebacker Chad Greenway asked the obvious: Why would the pundits predict good things for Minnesota, a team coming off a franchise-tying 13 losses, with a star running back trying to return from major knee surgery, an unproven second-year quarterback and a defense that was historically bad against the pass last season? But Greenway witnessed a transformation during those training camp days that manifested itself in September. He sensed a "buy-in" from everyone on the team, a change in mentality to reverse the downward slide the Vikings had been on for two years. "There's a confidence we have, and everybody is just playing for each other," Greenway said. "Playing for the guy next to you makes a big difference, and last year the circumstances were so much different." Greenway added: "I think we're all in. I don't think you can see anybody in this locker room who has not bought in completely." One-fourth of the way through the season, belief in itself has Minnesota at 3-1 and tied atop the NFC North with the Chicago Bears. The Vikings planted the seeds for success last offseason, when they attempted to change both the team's personnel and attitude. Greenway credits coach Leslie Frazier and the team's staff for the change in mentality, and it began with near-unanimous participation in the offseason program. "These are voluntary sessions, but the attendance that we had here gave me an indication that the guys were really hungry to have success, and that's what you need to see," Frazier said. "When you are trying to flip the script, you are trying to get things changed, trying to change the culture a little bit, you need everybody to participate otherwise you are just talking to a small percentage of the team." After wins the past two weeks against 2011 playoff teams, a different label is being attached to the Vikings: surprise. So is this a fluke, or can they sustain their level of play in what was expected to be one of the NFL's toughest divisions? "What we're putting out there on tape, that's the biggest thing," defensive end Everson Griffen said. "We're showing people we're not a surprise team no more. We come out and play and compete every rep. Once you do that, teams they recognize and respect that. We just got to keep on doing it all over again." After a Week 3 upset win at home against the San Francisco 49ers, a favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, the Vikings went on the road and snapped their 11-game NFC North losing streak by beating Detroit. Putting together back-to-back strong performances confirmed what the Vikings knew all along: They can be a playoff contender in 2012. "That just put the nail in the coffin, just showing that, 'Whoa.' People thought that was a big fluke and then we come out and beat Detroit," Griffen said. "We've just got to keep it rolling. We can't dwell in the past with this win. We won. People have big games. Now we've just got to move on to Tennessee and get the next victory." Beginning with the Tennessee Titans (1-3) this weekend, the Vikings' next six games are against teams outside the division. The 4-0 Arizona Cardinals are the only opponent in those games with a winning record, perhaps allowing the Vikings to have the strong first half needed before finishing with a division-heavy second-half schedule. Suddenly, stacking up wins seems far more probable than it did when Peterson was still rehabbing and quarterback Christian Ponder was a mystery coming off an uneven rookie season. Peterson has come back better than expected and posted his first 100-yard rushing game of the season against the Lions. Ponder has played smartly and efficiently, owning the league's eighth-best quarterback rating (97.7). And most important, Minnesota is tied for seventh in the league with just four turnovers. Meanwhile, the defense that was gashed so often last year is ninth in the league in fewest yards allowed and seventh in fewest points allowed. And mentally, coach Leslie Frazier believes the players are ready to handle the prosperity of winning. "Just seeing how we responded after the Indy game, and then coming back after San Francisco, I think we're maturing," Frazier said. "We're growing as a team. This will be a little heady for them. This is new territory for most of our guys. I got a feeling they'll handle it the right way." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin


Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime

Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker