Outside of Houston, expectations are low for Texans on the field. This is nothing new or unprecedented. There are a few national "sports journalists" begrudgingly picking them to be a "surprise", which loosely translated means they think that we might have a .500 season. These same guys are saying the same things about Arizona and Detroit, so it should generally be taken with a grain of salt. Texans fans expect this team to be the best we have seen in our short history while in the back of their minds remember their predictions before the atrocious 2005 season (I personally predicted a 10-6 season). Generally speaking, players take their biggest developmental steps between year one and two of their NFL careers so there has to be marked improvement in the 2006 draft class, especially with that year's first overall pick. Using this theory the coaching staff should be improved as well and have a much better feel for what their personnel can do. The front office added additional pressure on themselves by bringing in a career backup QB while naming him the starter and paying him a relatively hefty contract. They are also relying on Mike Sherman improving the offense and for Frank Bush to improve the defense. Not to mention that theyre banking on Jethro Franklin to improve an underachieving defensive line. So why is this the most important season and offseason in history. It's simple really. The team has over $33 million to spend in the next offseason. Most of their core players are locked up so this money will be spent on improving the roster. If the Texans can't show marked improvement (e.g. on the verge of being a contender) the top-tier free agents aren't going to come here. San Francisco is a perfect model for what we need to see this year. A young, improving team (8-8 last year) that had a ton of money to spend in the offseason which they used to sign several of the most sought after free agents. Great teams are built through the draft, however good free agent signings definitely help expedite the process. If the Texans go 8-8, their 2006 rookie class shows improvement and the 2007 rookie class makes the same kind of contributions that their predecessors did, we are going to be big time players in the 2008 free agent market and well on our way to building a consistent winner.