PHILADELPHIA -- After the first chance didn't go all that well in the Denver Broncos' 51-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, quarterback Brock Osweiler left Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday evening wondering if he will get a second chance.
Because now it really isn't about who plays quarterback for the Broncos. That became a supremely muddied affair as soon as they benched the guy who won the job. Now it's a matter of an increasingly frustrated team with an increasingly frustrated head coach with an increasingly growing string of losses trying to just pick a guy who won't give the ball away.
That is the state of affairs with this offense, given that the Broncos benched Trevor Siemian this past week, put Osweiler into the lineup, gained a subpar 3.8 yards per play in what was easily the worst loss of the post-2010 era, rushed for a season-low 35 yards and lost by 28 points.
Asked afterward if he were ready to say whether Osweiler would start next weekend against the New England Patriots, Broncos coach Vance Joseph was noncommittal, much the same way he was about Siemian after Monday night's loss in Kansas City looked to be the season's low point -- before Sunday's new low was discovered.
"We'll see,” Joseph said. "I have to go back and watch the tape and see how the game was played from that position before I make any decisions."
The list of choices is a puzzle to say the least, especially if the Broncos can't protect any of the guys they put behind center any better than they have in the past six games.
Siemian, a team captain who won the job in back-to-back training camps, was sent to the bench with 10 interceptions and repairs needed in his confidence and footwork. Osweiler, who added two more interceptions Sunday to the Broncos' growing pile, is trying to regain his own career footing after a bumpy ride with the Houston Texans last season to go with a bumpy ride this past summer before the still-winless Cleveland Browns released him.
Then there's Paxton Lynch, who is still rehabbing from a preseason shoulder injury, and even if the Broncos' medical and coaching staffs suddenly declared Lynch physically and mentally ready to start after so much time off, the Broncos' next opponent is ... the New England Patriots. So Lynch, who battled some confidence issues in the team's preseason games, especially after mistakes, would be asked to face whatever Bill Belichick comes up with coming off a bye.
But any decision starts with whether Joseph feels that what transpired on that side of the ball against the Eagles could be repaired with another change at quarterback, or whether he thinks it best to play Osweiler against the Patriots and see if things go any more smoothly.
"I thought Brock did a fine job," Joseph said as he measured his words carefully with every response Sunday. "I was proud of the week he had, and he did a fine job. Obviously, we had two more interceptions, which I don't like, but I have to go back and watch the tape to really get a feel for how Brock played."
The Broncos finished Sunday with 226 yards, their lowest output in an increasingly ugly season, including just 35 yards rushing, also a season low. Osweiler threw the team's 11th and 12th interceptions.
His second interception was every bit as bad as Siemian's third interception in Kansas City, part of an effort Joseph called "horrific" a week ago before removing Siemian from the lineup. Osweiler was sacked three times and finished with 208 yards passing, with much of that coming after the Eagles had at least a three-touchdown lead.
Osweiler's teammates said the troubles on offense went way beyond the quarterback's play -- "I think Brock did a good job. He put us in the right positions, came in on a short week and was prepared," guard Ron Leary said. The troubles do extend well past the quarterback, so perhaps Joseph looks at the video and decides Osweiler gets another shot to try to kick-start something in the offense. Osweiler hopes so.
"Absolutely, I think every player in the National Football League plays this game to be the starter, to contribute to his team, to help their football team win games," he said. "So I would love to be the starter of this football team. I can promise you that this game is not going to discourage me. I'm going to work harder than ever to clean up these problems and get us back in the win column."
The bottom line of bottom lines is that the Broncos haven't been in the win column since Oct. 1, when they were a 3-1 team with big dreams. Now, they are a team with five losses in their past six games, searching for some kind of offensive identity before the lack of one takes their whole season down.