The Indianapolis Colts downward spiral continued in Week 9, as the team suffered arguably their worst loss of the season at the hands of the New England Patriots. The Patriots defense bullied the Colts offense all day long, and they ended up coasting to an effortless 26-3 victory over Indy. It was clear immediately afterwards that this was the lowest point of the Colts season.

Making matters worse, the Colts fired their head coach Frank Reich on Monday morning in the aftermath of the loss, with legendary former offensive lineman Jeff Saturday set to replace him. Things have been gradually trending downward for the Colts lately, but it seems that they have hit a new low after this latest loss.

The Colts struggles this season don’t fall solely on Reich, but it’s clear he hasn’t exactly helped his team out this season. But Reich’s team didn’t help him much either, and that was certainly the case in Week 9. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three players most to blame for the Colts loss that ended up resulting in Reich’s dismissal.

3. Deon Jackson

Deon Jackson was forced into a tough spot in Week 9 with Jonathan Taylor being forced to miss the game, but he didn’t do anything to help his offense out. It’s a bit harsh to put him on this list, but truth be told, Jackson was expected to help the Colts offense at least get off the ground against a Patriots defense that has struggled against the run. That never ended up happening, though.

Jackson finished the game with just 23 yards on 11 carries while also catching two passes for 13 yards. Considering how the Colts offense finished the game with just 181 total yards, it’s not entirely surprising to see that Jackson wasn’t able to do much. But again, his inability to do so put the Colts in a bad spot that they simply weren’t able to get out of.

Had Jackson been able to establish, well, anything on the ground, that would have made things much easier for quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Instead, he spent much of the game stuck in the mud, and while that isn’t totally his fault, it’s enough to earn Jackson a spot on this list.

2. The Colts entire offensive line

A more guilty party would be the play of the Colts offensive line. It wouldn’t be fair to single out one guy when the entire unit played terribly, so I cheated and added them all here. Truth be told, there weren’t many other options either considering the defense can’t really be blamed for this game, and many players on offense didn’t have a chance to make their mark on this game.

As we saw in the point above, Jackson didn’t do much against a vulnerable Patriots run defense, and much of that is due to the offensive line being unable to open any holes for him on the ground. Ehlinger also took a beating under center, as the Patriots sacked him nine times on the day, with Ehlinger having no chance to avoid being sacked on some of the plays.

We’ve established by now that the Colts offense couldn’t do anything in this one, and that was largely due to the offensive line getting run ragged by the Pats all day long. Indianapolis’ offensive line hasn’t been particularly good all season long, but they were quite awful in Week 9, and they played a huge role in this crushing loss.

1. Sam Ehlinger

Again, Ehlinger doesn’t deserve the full blame for this loss, but he has to be the most guilty party given how bad he was under center. He didn’t have a lot of help, and he spent most of the day getting familiar with the turf at Gillette Stadium, but there were plays to be made by Ehlinger that he simply could not make.

Ehlinger’s final line on the day was pretty ugly (15/29, 103 YDS, 1 INT, 5 CAR, 39 YDS). When you account for the fact that Ehlinger’s nine sacks resulted in 60 lost yards, Ehlinger really only threw for 43 yards on the day. That type of production is never going to be enough to win football games, and it remains to be seen what the expectations are for Ehlinger at this point.

Despite what the Colts say, Ehlinger is playing way above his head on a team whose offense is falling apart more and more with each passing week. Pretty much everything is working against Ehlinger, but at the end of the day, that’s not a reason to leave him off this list. Ehlinger is the quarterback, which makes him primarily responsible for their struggles, even if he’s in a spot he probably shouldn’t be in. It’s tough, but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.