Indianapolis was running the ball well when it was winning games early in the season. Pagano often points to that dropoff as a major area for improvement. But the lack of success in the running game — the Colts gained just 80 yards on the ground Sunday — is more likely a symptom of the team's overall troubles than a cause.
Early deficits have caused Indianapolis to go to the air on nearly every snap. That further exposes a struggling offensive line and puts added pressure on a slumping receiving corps. That, in turn, leads to shorter possessions and more punts and rushes the embattled defense back onto the field.
Nothing happens in the NFL in a vacuum. Everything is connected.
And the Colts are ensnared in a vicious circle.
"The margin for error is small right now," Pagano said.
If things don't improve quickly, the team's playoff outlook will match.