C.J. Stroud has consistently talked about his growth over the first 13 weeks of his young NFL career.
Growing from week to week, win to loss and loss to win. It has all been about growth for a young Texans team, which now finds itself at 7-5 and in the heat of the AFC Wild Card race.
Stroud has credited his growth to Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik and Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. He has credited his teammates.
But what about another factor – the mindset inside the building on Kirby Drive.
"For us, me and the Texans, It's not about what the outside world thinks. Really all it is is a mindset," Stroud said. "It's a willing, unforgivable, accountable … It's a lot of things that make into our culture of what DeMeco calls 'SWARM'."
The Texans "SWARM"ed to a crucial 22-17 home victory over the Broncos on Sunday. The first win over the Broncos at NRG Stadium since 2007 and avoided back-to-back losses, which would have been the first time since the beginning of the year.
A key to the Texans success has been the play of their No. 2 and No. 3 overally picks from the 2023 NFL Draft.
Stroud and fellow rookie Will Anderson Jr., who had a career-best day against the Broncos with two sacks, both come from winning collegiate football programs in Ohio State and Alabama, respectively. Stroud in his final season with the Buckeyes played in the College Football Playoff Semifinal, while Anderson won the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship.
So, buying into a winning mentality is something that is second nature for guys like Stroud and Anderson instead of being a new mentality they have to
"For us, that's what we bought in to. I mean, you look at where we come from," Stroud said. "A lot of the younger players on this team, we come from winning programs in college and that definitely has to do with that."
Stroud enters Week 14 looking for a win on the road against the Jets as the Texans look to start cementing their spot in the playoff picture.
"It's been cool to see the progress that we've made being that we're a 'younger team' or whatever you want to call it," Stroud said with air quotes. "We've been able to put some things together."