Now, they are talking like one.
"We understand that 9-7 is not the bar," Texans coach Bill O'Brien told the Houston Chronicle, speaking of last year's record. "We feel like we've made some really good strides here in the past two years with our football team. We've overcome some adversity. We have a mentally tough team. We've got a bunch of great guys in that locker room but we know that the 9-7 bar is too low."
It's hard to place the weight of this statement on one person, but the major difference between this year's team and last year's team is the presence of a potential Pro Bowl quarterback. The Texans are giving Brock Osweiler every chance to be great in this offense, and his first test comes this Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
A quick look at the Texans' schedule shows no real relief out of the gate. Outside of a potentially-bad Bears team, Houston hosts the same Chiefs team that blew them out in the playoffs a year ago before traveling to New England. Games against a better Titans team and the Vikings on the road follow.
But the mark of a great team -- and a great quarterback -- is navigating schedules like these with a certain amount of ease.