The Minnesota Vikings have shaken off the specter of their 3-13 season of 2011. A season that started out bad, losing the first three games by giving away double-digit, halftime leads. Those first three games culminated with an overtime loss to the Lions, after going into the half with a 20-0 lead.
Those three games seemed to set the tone for the remainder of the season.
The defense finished last in the NFL, yielding 34 touchdowns passes. They also set a mark in futility going nine games without an interception. The season ended with their best player, running back Adrian Peterson, facing major reconstructive knee surgery following an injury in Week 16.
It sure looked like Leslie Frazier's tenure as head coach was on life support.
This season Frazier has turned things around. Going with a youth movement, the Vikings roster is the youngest since 1967, with the average age of 25.8 years old. They are playing more disciplined, currently with the ninth-fewest penalties in the NFL. This is an improvement over last season when they finished 22nd in the NFL in penalties.
The turnaround from last season has come about with four new starters on offense—three of them on the offensive line, and three new starters on defense.
Here's a countdown of the top five players on the Vikings' roster as we approach midseason.