Patriots set a standard Cardinals hope to emulate

Sep 10, 2016, 9:01 AM | Updated: Sep 12, 2016, 9:13 am
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians watches during the first half of an NFL preseason footbal...

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians watches during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/George Bridges)

(AP Photo/George Bridges)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Bruce Arians knows something about standards. He coached for eight seasons in Pittsburgh, where they now repeat the mantra, “the standard is the standard” for a franchise that has won six Super Bowl titles — more than any other NFL franchise — including two (2009) while Arians was a Steelers assistant.

Despite Pittsburgh’s hardware, however, the current standard setter in the NFL is the team that Arians’ Cardinals will face in Week 1 of the regular season on Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium: the New England Patriots.

“They’ve done it the best for the longest,” Arians said Friday. “I think there are three or four organizations that have done a great job in the last decade, but they obviously lead the pack.”

It’s impossible to argue that point. New England is tied with Green Bay for the longest playoff streak at seven straight seasons, the Patriots have made the playoffs in 12 of the last 13 seasons, they have won 12 of the last 13 AFC East titles and they have played in six of the last 15 Super Bowls, winning four of them.

New England hasn’t had a losing season since the first year of the millennium (they went 5-11 in 2000) and they have posted at least 10 wins in 13 straight seasons.

“They have a philosophy and a plan that they follow,” Arians said.

The plan starts with coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, an inexorably linked pair who have been together since 2000, with Brady the starter since 2001. In that time, Brady, who will miss Sunday’s game as part of a four-game suspension for the Deflategate scandal, has completed 4,953 of 7,792 passes for 58,028 yards, 428 touchdowns and just 150 interceptions, while being named to 11 Pro Bowls and winning two league MVP awards.

Belichick is also known for his simple ‘Do Your Job!’ mantra and his willingness to part with stars (aside from Brady) that will demand big money on the open market, or stars that don’t fit his culture. When asked this week about the Patriots’ keys to sustained success, Belichick was quick to defer credit.

“Mainly, we’ve got a lot of great players here. That’s always the most important thing,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of great players and I’ve had a lot of great coaches here — coaches that have gone on to other opportunities and coaches that are here that have been considered for other opportunities as well.”

Among the members of the Belichick coaching tree are Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien, Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, who has been a head coach in Cleveland (2005-08) and Kansas City (2011-12), Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was Denver’s head coach from 2009-10, and Charlie Weis, who had a less-than stellar five-year coaching run at Notre Dame.

New England’s organizational success is something the Cardinals would like to emulate as they chase their third straight postseason berth and first Super Bowl title. With an owner that is committed to spending and winning in Michael Bidwill, an aggressive and studious GM in Steve Keim, and a coach who has enjoyed success at every stop, the Cardinals hope they are on their way — even if they have miles to travel before they warrant a mention with the likes of New England.

“You always hear about the Patriot plan,” Arians said. “It’s a damn good one. It has worked for a long time.”

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Patriots set a standard Cardinals hope to emulate