INDIANAPOLIS – The offense is undeniably broken, and dragging down a team that entered the season with AFC South and playoff aspirations.

On Oct. 24, they benched Matt Ryan, a quarterback with 239 starts in 15 seasons, and turned to Sam Ehlinger, who had yet to throw an NFL pass in three games and a season-and-a-half.

Tuesday, they fired Marcus Brady, who was in his second year as coordinator and fifth with the team.

Shortly thereafter, they traded versatile and popular running back Nyheim Hines to the Buffalo Bills.

Where do the Indianapolis Colts go from here?

To quote Bill Belichick: They’re on to New England.

On a grander scale than Sunday’s business trip to Foxborough, Mass., though, is whether any of the shockwaves that have rippled through the offense – through the entire organization – make a difference.

This is an offense that is categorically one of the NFL’s worst. It’s – take a deep breath – 30th in scoring (16.1 points per game) and 29th with 12 touchdowns; 29th in rushing yards per game (87.8) and per attempt (3.7); 30th in sacks allowed (26); tied-1st in total turnovers (16) and fumbles (21), tied-1st with seven lost fumbles and tied-2nd with nine interceptions.

The offense has failed to score a point on its opening drive in 10 consecutive games, and its 42 points in the first half are the fourth-fewest in franchise history for the first eight games of a season. If the 16.1 per-game average holds up, it would be the second-lowest since 1994 (15.2 in 2017).

The hope was Ehlinger’s insertion last Sunday against Washington would improve ball security and production. Wrong and wrong. The Colts suffered two more crippling turnovers – lost fumbles by Ehlinger and Jonathan Taylor – and fell short, 17-16.

That’s not an indictment of Ehlinger. It’s a reflection of a broken offense.

Reich spent much of his Wednesday press conference explaining – sort of – the decision to fire Brady.

“Very, very difficult decision,’’ he said. “Very close with Marcus, have a lot of respect for him.

“Ultimately, as the head coach you’ve got to make decisions that you think are the best for the team. Both things can be true: Marcus is a really good coach, really good person, really good teammate, and sometimes it’s just right for a change, and there’s something that makes sense for the team.’’

 No specifics were offered on the reason or timing of Brady’s firing. Reich seemed to indicate the “fit’’ simply wasn’t working. He compared it to a player lacking chemistry with one team, but finding it elsewhere.

“Why is that?’’ Reich said. “They just fit better on another team. Sometimes I think that happens in coaching.’’

He pointed out he was fired as San Diego’s offensive coordinator after the 2015 season and “two years later I was coordinator on a team (Philadelphia) that won the Super Bowl.

“I expect Marcus to have continued success.’’

Reich was asked if Brady was being “scapegoated.’’ Remember, this is Reich’s offense.

“He’s not being scapegoated, but I understand how that perception is,’’ he said. “I have to own that.’’

Reich won’t elevate one of his assistants to interim coordinator.

“I’ll handle those duties,’’ he said. “I’m the play caller. Ultimately the offense falls on my shoulders.’’

Brady played an integral role in every facet of the offense, including leading the meetings. His responsibilities will be divvied up amongst the offensive staff, and running backs coach Scottie Montgomery will assume a stronger role.

As he heads into his second career start against Belichick and the Patriots, Ehlinger insisted he’ll stick to his routine.

“Everything will stay the same as much as possible,’’ he said. “My preparation won’t change. Love Marcus; wish him the best. He’s an excellent coach, excellent person. We had a great relationship, so it’s obviously hard.

“But for me personally, my routine and preparation will stay the same.’’

The next nine games will serve as a referendum on the changes, and whether more must be made at the end of the season.

Reich’s message to a team that sits at 3-4-1: move forward together.

“Stay united and keep fighting. Unite and fight,’’ he said. “Everybody do your job. Really feel like we’ve gotten soundly beaten by one team.’’

In week 2, Jacksonville dominated the Colts 24-0.

“The rest was a lot of self-inflicted stuff,’’ Reich said. “If we unite and fight the right way and play good football, I think we’ve already proven . . . we beat the Chiefs, obviously one of the better teams in the league.

“We’re very disgusted with where we’re at right now, with our record. But I believe everybody has the mindset we’re going to get back on track.’’

One step at a time.

“When you’re off track,’’ Reich said, “there is no magic pill. You gain your confidence and your rhythm back one play at a time.’’

Players should be accustomed to breaking news that reshapes their environment. The fact of the matter is, they have no choice but to adjust.

“It’s just you have to continue to control what you can control,’’ said defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. “I can’t control the quarterback change. I can’t control if a coach gets fired or a guy gets traded.

“I have to be able to do my job and look in the mirror and see what I can do to get better.’’

Added center Ryan Kelly: “We’re kind of creatures of habit, and you’ve got a locker room that’s been together for a long time. New quarterback, fire the OC, it can be tough.

“But it’s still the same plays we’ve been running, the same o-line. We’ll get out there and have a great week.’’

It certainly would help every aspect of the offense if the line lifted its collective game. Consistency and continuity have been lacking from day 1. The Colts have turned to five different starting combinations, and it’s been because of performance, not injury.

Before being benched, Ryan was sacked 24 times and hit another 88 times. He suffered a Grade 2 sprain to his right shoulder in his last start, the week 7 loss at Tennessee.

“At the end of the day with the changes, your job remains the same,’’ said left guard Quenton Nelson. “Just need to improve on doing our job and winning our one-on-ones.’’

Despite the season-long struggles of the line, Reich expressed support for position coach Chris Strausser.

“I have confidence in Strauss,’’ he said. “He’s produced a lot of good offensive line play. Do we have to play better? Yes. Are we headed in the right direction? I do feel like we are.

“Everybody’s got to do their job from me, to Strauss, to the o-line, and I believe we’re on that right track.’’

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You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.