INDIANAPOLIS – Now what? And how much further down before an offense on its second quarterback, without a coordinator and minus one of its playmakers hits rock bottom?

Those are legitimate questions and concerns in the aftermath of the worst offensive performance of Frank Reich’s five-year career as head coach and one of the worst in franchise history.

And let’s remind everyone the Colts have been around since 1953.

Lest anyone thinks we’re traveling down Hyperbole Highway, we give you Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

New England Patriots 26, Indianapolis Colts 3.

“I mean, that’s an offense that’s unacceptable,’’ offered Sam Ehlinger, who was unproductive and under constant siege in his second start since replacing Matt Ryan.

“Our defense kept us in the game and we didn’t do anything out there to help them out. They were playing their tails off and (the offense) couldn’t get anything going in every phase.’’

Fourteen days after Ryan was benched, six days after coordinator Marcus Brady was fired and five days after versatile running back Nyheim Hines was traded to Buffalo, coach Frank Reich stood at the podium and was peppered with questions regarding his still-horribly-broken offense.

At least he didn’t deflect the blame.

“The offensive performance, that’s why I was brought here,’’ he said. “That’s my responsibility. We’ve got the players that are plenty good enough.

“I have to do a better job. It starts with me on offense. I need to do a better job getting the guys ready to play, putting guys in a good position to win and having the answers when we face problems.’’

The difficult part of sorting through the debris following this level of offensive impotency is determining the most pertinent stats. But we’ll try:

  • 121 total net yards. That’s the 9th fewest in franchise history and fewest since finishing with 118 in a 31-3 loss to Seattle in 1997. The Colts averaged 2 yards per play.
  • 0-for-14 on third-down conversions. That’s tied-2nd worst in NFL history. Arizona set the mark for futility (0-for-15) versus the New York Jets in 2012. The Colts’ previous low-water mark: 0-for-10 in a 46-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the 2017 opener. The Colts also were 0-for-2 on fourth down.
  • 9 sacks allowed. That’s the 4th-most in franchise history, and a 10th sack was wiped out by a roughing-the-QB penalty. The Baltimore Colts yielded 12 sacks against St. Louis in 1980 and 10 against Tampa Bay in ’79, while the Indy edition got Jacoby Brissett buried under 10 against Jacksonville in 2017. Matthew Judon and Josh Uche had 3 each.
  • 43 net passing yards. That reflects the minus-60 yards on the nine sacks. Ehlinger averaged 1.13 net yards per drop-back, the club’s worst since Jim Harbaugh’s 0.92 in that ’97 loss to Seattle (11-of-17, 77 gross yards, 23 net when the Seahawks’ eight sacks and minus-54 yards are factored in).
    • As if Ehlinger’s day wasn’t bad enough – 15-of-29, 103 yards – he saw a fourth-quarter pass go through the hands of tight end Kylen Granson, intercepted by Jonathan Jones and returned 17 yards for a touchdown.
  • 3 points. An offense that entered the game ranked 30th in scoring (16.1) took another step backward. During their three-game losing streak, the Colts have scored 10, 16 and 3 points. The Ehlinger-led unit has one TD and four Chase McLaughlin field goals on 27 drives. There have been 11 three-and-outs the last two weeks.
  • Chasing again. The streak of zero points on an opening drive hit 11 games, as did the streak of trailing at halftime (13-0). The Colts are the only team in the league that has trailed entering the fourth quarter of every game this season.

The Colts slipped to 3-5-1 and are showing no signs of being able to halt their free-fall over the final half of the season.

The defense once again played at a winning level. The Patriots were limited to a season-low 203 yards and 11 first downs, four Nick Folk field goals and one touchdown, and that came after smothering a Matt Haack punt and recovering it at the 2-yard line. The Colts forced four three-and-out possessions, generated four sacks and eight tackles for loss.

And it wasn’t nearly enough.

That speaks to the level of ineptitude by Reich’s offense, which admittedly was without All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor.

“We’ve got to do more on offense,’’ he said. “And like I said, that starts with me. You know, we’ve made the moves that we made. Everybody’s responsible. Everyone has their role to play.

“But, you know, I’m the leader of the offense. I’m the leader of the offense and that’s my responsibility.’’

Prior to Ehlinger’s first start against the Washington Commanders last week, owner Jim Irsay reached out to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and insisted he had no thoughts of firing either Reich or general manager Chris Ballard despite his team’s struggles.

He told Mortensen, “I’m in a great spot with Chris and Frank,’’

Irsay has never fired a coach during a season, and isn’t likely to make an exception. But the continued offensive struggles will test his patience.

As Reich repeated several times, “Offensively, it starts with me.’’

Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly attempted to deflect some of the vitriol facing Reich.

“He can’t go out there and play the game,’’ Kelly said in the locker room after the game. “Everybody has a job in this league. It doesn’t matter what your role in, you have to do your job.

“Certainly on offense, we didn’t get it done collectively. We had times where guys were doing it and times where we had momentum, but those were few and far between.’’

The nine sacks pushed the Colts’ season total to a league-high 35. They’re on pace to give up a franchise-record 66, wiping the 1997 unit from the books (62).

Ehlinger attempted to soften the liability of his offensive line. That group dealt with a mid-game shift when Will Fries replaced Matt Pryor at right guard.

“It’s on everybody,’’ Ehlinger said. “You know, route disciplines, route spacing. For me, getting the ball out on time, taking checkdowns when they’re there, not holding on too long.

“There were a handful of them that were on me. And it sucks because (the o-line is) going to take the heat for that.’’

The heat should be turned up on every phase of the offense.

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You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.