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We've reached the "I feel bad" chapter of the Paxton Lynch story

Zac Stevens Avatar
August 19, 2018

DENVER — Paxton Lynch’s performance during the Denver Broncos’ second preseason game is the least of his worries.

On Saturday, Lynch’s woes began before he received his first snap.

However, to get the full picture of exactly where the former first-round pick stands now, the clock must be turned back.

Dating back to Tuesday, the day he was demoted to the third-string quarterback, Lynch’s world with the Broncos has been flipped upside down.

“When I first got the news, I was pretty upset about it because I know how hard I work, I know how bad I want to play and I know how much this means to me,” Lynch said on Saturday night, reflecting back to when he found out he was demoted to third-string quarterback for the first time in his career not due to injury.

If being demoted wasn’t tough enough, head coach Vance Joseph publicly criticized Lynch’s overall performance—the first time someone within the organization has done such in regards to the 2015 first-round pick.

“He is upset and he didn’t like it. He wants to know why,” Joseph said on Tuesday, describing how Lynch took the news while also mentioning he didn’t understand why he was demoted. “He’s got to play better. It’s as simple as that. It’s a competition. It’s the league. Everyone is doing this. No one is not playing their best players.”

But before the roughest week of his professional career could end, it got worse.

Saturday night, he was delivered his biggest blow as he stepped onto the field.

Midway through the third quarter, after Chad Kelly once again had a stellar outing, it was Paxton’s turn to show the organization he’s not done fighting.

But as he began his trot out on the field, the wind was taken from his sails before he could even pick up steam. As No. 12 entered, Broncos Stadium at Mile High erupted.

Two and a half years ago, after the Broncos traded up to No. 26 overall to draft the Memphis product, every soul would have assumed the eruption on Saturday night was joyful.

Instead, it was an outcry of boos. A beating of boos. A haunting of boos.

And they only grew louder as his 5-for-11 night wore on.

“Well, I feel bad for Paxton,” Joseph said after the game, making a statement rarely heard in professional sports.

“But our fans want to win. That’s what it’s about, it’s about passion. I feel bad for Paxton, but he has to ignore it and go play—it’s professional football, you know. No one is going to hold your hand. He has to go out and perform.”

After the game, in what felt like insult to injury, Lynch was asked if he even wants to be the backup quarterback.

The worst part of it all is Paxton gets it. And that’s the toughest part of this whole ordeal.

“I just haven’t been playing well,” Lynch said after the game with sorrow present in every pore of his body. “That’s not acceptable, especially playing quarterback here, you’ve got to play well and give your team an opportunity to win every week.”

The former first-round pick very well could be staring at the final weeks of his tenure with the team that entrusted him to be their answer to Peyton Manning’s retirement.

Lynch maintained he hasn’t lost his confidence in himself. From the crowd’s response on Saturday, he may be the only one.

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