ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When a team is 3-8 and in the midst of its first seven-game losing streak since before the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, there is plenty of football adversity from which the players can try to bounce back.
That certainly includes the Denver Broncos' quarterback carousel, which took another spin on Monday. With Paxton Lynch having suffered an ankle injury in Sunday's game, Trevor Siemian moved back into the starting lineup for at least next Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. The team's three quarterbacks -- Siemian, Lynch and Brock Osweiler -- have each started at least one game this season, have each been the No. 2 for at least one game and have each been a game-day inactive for at least one game.
"That's not good," said head coach Vance Joseph. "When you're playing with three quarterbacks not because of injury, it's not a good thing. We have to find the right guy for our football team, and that's where it starts in this league. All three guys have worked hard. Again, when you don't have success at the quarterback level, it's a lot of things. It's blocking and it's throwing and catching. It's all those things. It's details. I can't say it's all of those kids' fault. It's a unit issue. But it starts with the quarterback."
As the Broncos go about the rather ugly business of deciding who will stay and who will go after they close out this lost season, how the quarterbacks have handled what's come their way will be factor into the decision.
For Lynch, who was the team's first-round draft pick in 2016, handling adversity appears to still be his biggest hurdle. Joseph made it a point on Monday to acknowledge that Lynch did some good things in his first start of the season Sunday against the Raiders. But after Lynch threw an interception -- on a deflected pass that linebacker NaVorro Bowman intercepted while he was on the ground -- things went afoul. The interception came on a play that started from the Raiders' 1-yard line just seconds into the second quarter. From that point on, Lynch was 5-of-7 passing for 23 yards, was sacked four times and had no rushing yardage. Before the interception, Lynch was 4-of-7 for 18 yards but with no sacks and 20 yards rushing on two carries.
"I thought Paxton, early in the football game, made good decisions for us," Joseph said. "... That drive, we move down into the red zone and he throws the pick on the goal line there, and it went downhill for him after that. He took some sacks holding the ball too long on occasions there."
Battling confidence issues after a mistake isn't new for Lynch. It's something he's dealt with in practices and in back-to-back training camps at times, and in each of the past two years he's been beaten out for the starting job by Siemian. Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway acknowledged Lynch's issues back in August after the Broncos had just finished joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers.
"I think what you saw in Paxton [on Aug. 17] is he played with a little more confidence than he has in the past," Elway said at the time. "I think any time he does that he's a lot more successful. That comes with youth, too. You have your ups and downs as youths, and the consistency is not there where you want it to be."
Osweiler has faced this issue as well, getting traded away by the Houston Texans after just one year as a starter and then being released by the Cleveland Browns just before the start of the regular season. The Broncos also benched Osweiler after his three starts this season to give Lynch the start in Sunday's game.
But Siemian did show on Sunday, at least for one afternoon in relief of an injured Lynch, he could bounce back. Siemian had been benched following an Oct. 30 loss in Kansas City after three interceptions that day brought his season total to 10.
Siemian was a game-day inactive for the game against the Cincinnati Bengals just over a week ago. But after he entered Sunday's game with the Broncos trailing the Raiders 21-0, he led two touchdown drives -- 93 and 75 yards long -- as he finished 11-of-21 passing for 149 yards.
"I thought Trevor did a great job of being down for a week and being back on the roster, getting himself back engaged and playing good football," Joseph said. "That speaks to Trevor as a person -- to bounce back through adversity and come back and play a decent football game in the fourth quarter for us. I was excited to watch him go on two long drives and give us two touchdowns."
After Sunday's game, Siemian was asked if he wanted to start games again down the stretch. "I want to play. That's out of my hands," he said. "My job -- once I wasn't playing, I just said whenever [the] next opportunity is, that's what I'm going to worry about and I'm going to make the most of it when the ball comes my way."
And when asked if being benched helped in how he approached Sunday's situation or how he would approach playing in the future, he simply added: "Tough to say right now. Maybe in five years I'll have a better answer for you."