Despite the fact that the Patriots are 9-1, all anyone can talk about is how poorly the offense has performed so far this season (including this very website). It's fair criticism, though; New England is ranked 16th in total yards per game while averaging only 91 yards on the ground. All things considered, it's the least lethal offense that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have engineered since maybe 2015, where everyone important other than Rob Gronkowski got hurt.
There are a variety of elements that have combined to create this odd alternate reality where a Brady-led team is relying almost entirely upon the defense to win games -- a rotating cast of skill-position players, young guys playing key roles and struggling to pick up the offense, and Josh McDaniels using the regular season as a science experiment for play-calling all come to mind. But the heart of all their issues is a depleted offensive line.
It flew under the radar (because linemen generally do), but last year's starting center, David Andrews, went down for the season with blood clots before Week 1. Replacement Ted Karras has done an admirable job, but the line struggled to work cohesively early on. This was only compounded when starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn was placed on IR after Week 2.
Wynn was activated by the team this week, however, and his return may solve most of, if not all, the Patriots' offensive issues. Brady is the greatest quarterback ever, but his quality of play drops significantly when he doesn't have confidence in his offensive line. This doesn't exactly make him unique, but given his lack of mobility and the offense's reliance on timing to succeed, it becomes a big problem when Brady gets jumpy.
Between Trent Brown and Nate Solder, Brady hasn't had to worry about his blind side for a number of years. That changed when Marshall Newhouse stepped in after Wynn's injury. Newhouse has done a fine job for a journeyman tackle, but he has been solely responsible for a handful of offensive possessions dying because he gets blown by on the edge. Even when that doesn't happen, Brady is clearly affected by the ghosts of past pass rushers and usually gets rid of the ball quicker than he needs to, resulting in suboptimal completions or just a throw-away.
Wynn played like the first-round pick he was billed as for the first game and a half this year. If he can get anywhere close to that level as he steps back into the starting position, Brady will be able to go through his reads comfortably and shouldn't bail out before the full play develops-- something that has been happening very often, and especially so against Philadelphia this past week.
Wynn's return probably won't turn around the run game, another significant issue that will continue to hamper this offense. But at the end of the day, keeping Brady comfortable is the priority for New England -- keep Brady clean and upright, and the rest will come. Wynn will not only be a welcome boon for the Patriots, he could reverse the Patriots' narrative of 2019.