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Pagano’s seat on fire after Colts shut out

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts didn’t wait until the second half before embarrassing themselves.

They did it the moment they stepped onto the field to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s job status was as murky as Florida swamp waters, but he sealed his fate when he and his team officially hit rock-bottom in his five-plus years as coach of the team.

The Colts were manhandled in every facet of their 27-0 loss to the Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Sunday was the first time since Dec. 26, 1993, that they were shut out in a game.

Pagano had routinely found a way to bounce back from debacles in past seasons. That clearly hasn’t been the case this season.

Sunday was just a different twist on how the Colts can lose games, after routinely failing in the second half during the previous five weeks.

All eyes on Pagano this season, especially with Andrew Luck (shoulder) out, have centered on his ability to field a competitive team. The last thing they’ve been is competitive, as their two victories are against winless Cleveland and San Francisco. General manager Chris Ballard is constantly evaluating every area of the franchise, starting with Pagano, who survived the past two seasons despite having an 8-8 record in each of those years.

Colts owner Jim Irsay has never fired a coach during a season, but given how his team played in the fetal position all game, you have to wonder if he’ll change his mind.

Things don’t get any easier for the Colts. Their next three games are at Cincinnati, at Houston and home against Pittsburgh.

It’s hard to imagine Pagano being able to keep his team together after they let a Jacksonville team that was without its starting running back (Leonard Fournette) and center (Brandon Linder), and which lost its left tackle (Cam Robinson) on the first series, all the while making quarterback Blake Bortles look like a legitimate player.

The Colts had 72 yards of total offense and had given up 342 yards to Jacksonville during the first half, when they trailed 20-0 at halftime. Indianapolis finished with 232 total yards; receiver T.Y. Hilton had two catches for 27 yards, and running back Frank Gore had nine carries for 34 yards. Meanwhile, Bortles finished 18-of-26 for 330 yards and a touchdown for Jacksonville, which had 518 total yards of offense.

The Colts summed up their afternoon when they had the ball fourth-and-2 deep inside Jacksonville’s territory in the fourth quarter. They called a timeout to make sure everybody was on the same page.

A handoff to the running back? Nope.

A quick pass to get the first down? No way.

How about a sneak with a quarterback who took a constant pounding all afternoon? Ding! Ding!

Jacoby Brissett was stuffed on the play, giving the ball back to Jacksonville.

That’s the Indianapolis Colts for you these days.

And you remember all that talk about having Luck play this season no matter where the Colts are recordwise once he’s cleared to return?

There’s no reason for him to play the way this season is turning out. There’s too much risk in him getting injured. Brissett, who is starting in Luck’s place, was sacked 10 times and took a handful of other hits.

This season has become a waste for Indianapolis. It’s time to focus on next season, not next week for the Colts.

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