The Indianapolis Colts rolled through the early portion of this season with an in-your-face offense that ground opponents down with a mix of the run and pass.
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton favors a scheme that lashes defenses with a hard-charging ground game, but Indy hasn't been that team over the past two weeks. After running for 100-plus yards in six of their first seven tilts, the Colts squeezed out just 69 yards against the Houston Texans before sputtering to a stop with 18 yards in Sunday's ugly 38-8 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
"Our inability to run the football of late, it hurts your football team," Pagano said this week, per The Tribune-Star. "Time of possession, your three-and-out field position, the defense is having to play more, it affects so many different things. Our ability to run the football and stop the run is paramount and we got to get back to doing that."
Indianapolis' troubles on the ground have coincided with an air attack that's dried up since losing Reggie Wayne for the season to a knee injury. Making matters worse, Trent Richardson has flatlined, running for 2.8 yards per carry since coming to town. He's looked tentative and lost in the backfield.
"It makes it difficult because you become one-dimensional," Pagano said. "When people take (the run) away from you and you got to drop back and throw it every time, then they're teeing off and they're not honoring the run game."
That showed against the Rams, who shut down T-Rich and repeatedly thrust Andrew Luck and the Colts into third-and-long situations. Indy holds a two-game lead in the AFC South, but the team we saw Sunday is heading in the wrong direction.