Hannable: Patriots lacking typical preseason buzz, why is that?

Ryan Hannable
August 10, 2018 - 11:12 am

Paul Rutherford/USA Today Sports

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The Patriots will always be king in Boston and New England, but through the first few weeks of training camp and now the first preseason game, there just isn’t the same hype with the team as we’re used to seeing.

It started with the first few days of training camp when the crowds weren’t even close to what they once were. Typically in the first few sessions, there’s an overflow crowd that spills onto the ramps of the stadium. This year, there wasn’t much of that at all — maybe just a few hundred people on the first weekend. Not the thousands in the past that have filled up the ramps at all levels.

It’s played out over the last few weeks where there just hasn’t been much to talk about with the team. There aren’t many real storylines with the team right now. Not that it’s a bad thing, but there just isn’t much to talk about before the regular season begins. There aren’t that many exciting positional battles, no holdouts and a lack of new star players.

Then came Thursday and the first preseason game when Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and other core players didn’t play at all. When it came to ratings, it earned a 11.7 rating in Boston, which compared to a 14.5 rating in last year’s first preseason game against the Jaguars. It is worth noting the Red Sox had an off-day last year the night of the game, but that likely didn’t make all that much of a difference.

There are a number of factors that could be part of the lack of buzz.

The conversation needs to start with Jimmy Garoppolo, particularly when it comes to ratings for the preseason games. 

In the past few years it’s been all about Garoppolo and how he looks in game action. It’s not too hard to figure it out — people would rather tune in to see Garoppolo than Brian Hoyer. People knew the preseason was their only real chance to see the Eastern Illinois product play, so they tuned in. Not to mention he was pretty good in these games.

Another thing worth pointing out is the team doesn’t have many newcomers fans are dying to see. 

First-round pick Sony Michel may be the closest thing to that, but due to a knee injury he isn’t expected to play in the preseason. Last year there was free agent addition Brandin Cooks and also more hype surrounding the team, as some predicted the team to go 16-0. This year, it’s much of the same faces fromm a year ago and not a lot of new, impactful players. Sure, there’s Danny Shelton, Trent Brown and Adrian Clayborn, but it’s hard to get excited about line play in the preseason.

There could also be an element of Patriot fatigue.

Much of the offseason was centered around the reported drama between Bill Belichick, Brady and also Gronkowski. After awhile it seemed like fans grew tired of hearing about it and tuned it out. Also, the deep runs in recent years have spoiled fans in a sense where things don’t seem to matter until the playoffs, aside from a few marquee regular-season matchups.

Is a lack of buzz in the preseason a bad thing? No, not at all. No games are won based on how much hype there is surrounding a team in August.

This will all change come Sept. 9 when the Patriots host the Texans in the regular-season opener and the games matter, but for the next several weeks it appears it will be more of the same — just not a whole lot to talk about.

And given everything the franchise has gone through the past few years, it probably isn’t complaining.

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