The tears that filled Paxton Lynch’s eyes said it all.

An MRI on his mysteriously injured ankle is scheduled for Monday morning, but those tears said that his season could be over. His shot at being the player John Elway thought he could be on draft night 2016, likely expired. His career going forward, in Denver or elsewhere, a total question mark.

I’d cry, too.

The truth is that we don’t know – we may never know – if Paxton Lynch is capable of being an NFL quarterback. His stat line from Sunday, his first start since Dec. 4, 2016 — 9-for-14 for 41 passing yards, a bad luck interception that would have never happened if a pretty touchdown hadn’t been erased, and a rating of 38.4 — potentially suggests that the Broncos have seen enough, regardless of the severity of his injury. Lynch didn’t look good; that can’t be denied. But neither did the Broncos.

What else is new?

It was the same old story, this time in Oakland: The play calling was unimaginative if not downright awful, the run game abandoned, the offensive line anemic.

Truly, how can one effectively evaluate any of Denver’s signal callers this season? Is it safe, or even fair, to say that none of them are worth a damn?

Trevor Siemian looked like the best quarterback on the roster for all of one quarter. After Lynch left the game injured, Siemian nearly led the Broncos to a win, going 11-for-21 for 149 yards and tossing two touchdown passes. But if he’s truly the best quarterback on the roster, why was he inactive a week ago? What happened this past week (another “good week of practice”) that caused Siemian to become the backup, leapfrogging Brock Osweiler, last week’s starter?

Can anyone explain what the hell is going on with the Denver Broncos this season?

Another (serious) question: How badly has the professional football life of Paxton Lynch been mishandled?

If the poor kid ever had an ounce of ability, it was wasted long, long ago. Again, this is not to say he’s a competent NFL quarterback — that would be an irresponsible claim at this point. He could very well be the bust he appears to be. Undeniable, however, is the fact that the Denver Broncos have not done young Lynch any favors. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that those “in the know” in Denver marveled at Lynch’s “big arm” in preseason games. Then, everyone snickered knowing that the Broncos had luckily landed Lynch instead of sure-fire bust Jared Goff.

Lynch began his career holding the clipboard for an equally inexperienced Siemian. He came in as the backup with a 14-7 lead against Tampa Bay in Week 4 last season. With Siemian injured, Lynch added 10 points to the Broncos lead and departed with a win against the Bucs. The next week, he looked somewhat like a rookie getting the start against the Atlanta Falcons. Then again, the Broncos were down 10-0 eight minutes into the first quarter. Playing from behind all day, Lynch went 23-for-35 and threw for 235 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He led the Broncos to 13 fourth-quarter points, too. Keep in mind, that was against what most would argue to be the best team in the NFL last season (Atlanta should have been the Super Bowl champs).

Siemian was reinserted as the starter after that, until week 12 when Lynch got another shot against Jacksonville. He didn’t play great, but also didn’t throw an interception. The Broncos won easily, 20-10. Last year, Jacksonville had the NFL’s sixth-best defense; this season, the Jags sit atop the list. Siemian was back as the starter in Week 13 and Lynch didn’t play again.

Onto 2017. In camp, Lynch and Siemian split snaps for an abnormally long time, a practice that arguably didn’t help either quarterback. Then Lynch was hurt in the third preseason game. At the time, Vance Joseph reported that the injury was “a short-term issue.”

Apparently, Joseph’s diagnosis was inaccurate. Coincidence or not, Lynch’s “recovery” from the injury timed well with the Broncos (essentially) being out of the playoff picture in the AFC. So, after not being able to practice all season long, or at least not allowed to throw passes beyond an “intermediate” distance, after what seemed to be one week of practice at full strength, Lynch was named the backup in Week 11 and the starter in Week 12.

Now he’s hurt. His future in doubt, no doubt.

Lynch’s development – or lack thereof – is nothing short of a tragedy. He’s been mishandled from the beginning.

As a rookie under Gary Kubiak, a coach that former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said, “will do you right at quarterback,” Lynch didn’t gain much on-field experience. It seemed that Kubiak unquestionably favored Siemian, even to the point of refusing to play Lynch in the season finale with the playoffs unattainable. Besides, Kubiak’s system was built for Kubiak, not Lynch.

This season Lynch was never really afforded the chance to become a true backup, much less a starter. Splitting snaps in camp didn’t help. Then, sidelined with injury for more than 13 weeks, he was finally thrust into his first meaningful role. In the two-week span that saw Lynch go from injured to backup to starter, the team’s offensive coordinator was fired and the quarterbacks coach became the play caller. Aside from having three coordinators / play callers in 15 months’ time, Lynch has this year been “developing” under what is shaping up to be the worst coaching staff in Denver Broncos history. And he, like Siemian and Osweiler, played behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.

Lynch might not be good, but his surroundings have been worse. “Inconsistent” is the nicest way to put it.

Had Jerry Jones done what he intended — remember, he preferred Lynch to last year’s Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott on draft night — would Lynch’s story be completely different? Would Lynch have gone on to be a star in Big(ger) D?

Dallas built an offense around the run and the strengths of Prescott. Under Kubiak, Denver’s offense was rigid and stale. Identifying what Lynch could or couldn’t do effectively never happened anyway, as he rarely saw the field — a development that carried over into the Joseph regime.

Denver has not only spent two seasons wasting a Super Bowl caliber defense, they’ve also wasted the No. 26 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Or, if you’re of the belief that Lynch was a waste from the get-go, then the Broncos have wasted an even more valuable commodity – time.

It’s a sad, sad situation in Denver.

Paxton Lynch’s tears said it all.