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INDIANAPOLIS – Everyone is in agreement on one area that contributed to the Indianapolis Colts’ epic collapse last season and must be addressed in the coming months.

The passing game.

But don’t take our word for it.

General manager Chris Ballard: “Our pass game has to be better.’’

Coach Frank Reich: “We’ve got to be better in the passing game . . . I just think it was definitely below our standards, and there’s multiple reasons for that. We have to take ownership of that as coaches and players.’’

So much of the attention – and criticism – in the aftermath of the Colts flaming out in the final two weeks against the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars went to the player under center. Too often, Carson Wentz didn’t hold up.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The substandard performance of the passing game – 26th in yards per game (197.7), 20th in yards per attempt (6.9) – encompassed the pitcher as well as the catchers.

Wentz wasn’t good enough, and that was driven home when Ballard insisted the team will explore all options at the position during the offseason.

“I think we’ll look at everything,’’ Ballard said.

He was discussing Wentz and the quarterback position, but could well have been referring to the receivers room.

Like Wentz, the wideouts weren’t good enough.

That’s not a slap at Michael Pittman Jr. In his second season, he emerged as someone around which the position can be built. He led the team in every significant category: targets (129), receptions (88), yards (1,082) and touchdowns (six). Pittman also was one of the NFL’s top third-down options: tied for 10th with 25 receptions and 9th with 376 yards.

“We think he’s going to continue to get better,’’ Ballard said. “Y’all didn’t think Pittman was going to be really good, and all of a sudden he’s pretty good. I remember when y’all questioned that.’’

Looking back, there was little criticism directed at the Colts when they used the first of their two second-round picks in the 2020 draft – 34th overall – on Pittman. His selection was quickly followed by Jonathan Taylor, taken 41st overall.

Pittman and Taylor were viewed as a pair of potential offensive cornerstones, and neither has disappointed.

But while Pittman was enjoying a breakout season, his supporting cast failed to provide consistent production. And it was at a historic level.

Again, Pittman cracked the 1,000-yard for the first time. Next in line: Zach Pascal with 384 yards on 38 catches. The Colts were the only team in the league to not have two players with at least 385 receiving yards; it was the first time by the franchise since 1988.

There were contributing factors in the Pittman-or-bust season.

T.Y. Hilton was re-signed during the offseason for a 1-year, $10 million contract, but endured another injury-plagued season. It began with neck surgery to repair a disc issue that surfaced during training camp and included a quad injury and concussion.

If 2021 was Hilton’s final season – he’s contemplating retirement – it was a quiet farewell. In 10 games, he managed 23 catches, 331 yards and three TDs. He had fewer than four receptions seven times and fewer than 52 yards in nine games.

Parris Campbell’s third season mirrored his first two. The 2019 second-round draft pick suffered a broken foot on the biggest play of his career – a 51-yard TD against Houston in week 6 – and would finish with just 10 catches and 162 yards in six games.

Pascal, meanwhile, endured one of those step-back seasons. After posting at least 40 receptions and 600 yards with 10 touchdowns the previous two seasons, he too often was a non-factor. In his last seven games, Pascal had just eight receptions for 65 yards.

After a strong preseason, rookie Michael Strachan seldom saw the field. He had just two catches for 26 games in six games, and didn’t step on the field for the final eight games.

“Just wasn’t ready,’’ Ballard said. “Really talented guy, and we’ve got high hopes for him. Like him, has upside, got a bright future.’’

There were flashes elsewhere: Dez Patmon’s sliding 14-yard TD that helped secure the 22-16 win at Arizona; Ashton Dulin’s 62-yard TD on a deep post from Wentz against Tampa Bay.

But only flashes.

Ballard insisted the Colts have “good young players’’ at the position, but quickly added “we’re trying to upgrade every position if we can.’’

That upgrade is imperative, whether Wentz returns for a second season or the Colts turn to a fifth different opening-day starter since Reich’s arrival.

Despite Pittman’s presence, the passing game lacked the type of outside threat that forced defensive coordinators to alter coverages. The Colts finished with just three 100-yard receiving games – two by Pittman, one by Taylor – and had none over the final 10 games.

In the NFL’s passing world, the lack of a consistent playmaking threat in the receivers’ room is difficult to overcome. The Colts were one of 13 teams with four or fewer 100-yard receiving games. Only two – New England, which ironically had zero, and Arizona (four) – reached the postseason.

The teams in Super Bowl LVI? The Los Angeles Rams had 13, tied with Tampa Bay for the most in the league. Cincinnati was next with 10.

“Would I like two or three dynamic (wideouts)?’’ Ballard asked. “Absolutely I would. But I think we’ve got some good young players to work with.

“I guess we’ll see what happens going forward.’’

The initial step is determining which players are worth re-signing.

The wideouts under contract for 2022 are Pittman, Campbell, Patmon, Strachan, Keke Coutee and DeMichael Harris. Dulin will be a restricted free agent and will command a solid restricted tender because of his value as a receiver and special teams standout (2nd-team All-Pro).

Hilton likely will retire, leaving Pascal as the only veteran might merit a new contract.

The prevailing question: does Ballard look to the draft to reinforce the position or does he opt for a veteran free agent?

In his five drafts, Ballard has invested just two early picks on the position: Pittman and Campbell, both second-rounders.

A more concerted venture into free agency would mark a change in approach. The only significant free-agent additions have been with one-year deals: Devin Funchess in 2019 ($10 million), Ryan Grant in ’18 ($5 million) and Kamar Aiken in ’17 ($2.6 million).

“I think y’all know my philosophy on free agency,’’ Ballard said. “It all depends on who the player is and does he fit us.

“Just to go sign a free agency cause y’all are clamoring for one . . . it’s a case-by-case basis on what we do. I don’t think signing big-name free agents always equates to winning. It’s signing the right free agents that equates to winning.’’

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You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.