Crennel says fans did not figure into decision to bench Anderson

Updated: November 4, 2008, 9:05 PM ET
Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio -- Derek Anderson answered the final question, bowed his head and stared blankly at the floor. He then walked slowly toward a door at the far end of Cleveland's locker room, pausing to exchange a fist bump with linebacker and fellow team captain Andra Davis on his way out.

Seconds later, Brady Quinn entered to face a media semicircle in front of Anderson's stall.

Quietly, the quarterbacking torch was passed.

On a Tuesday in which change was the buzzword across the country, power shifted for the Cleveland Browns.

The team began a new era with fan-favorite Quinn as its on-field leader. He'll replace Anderson, who was benched by coach Romeo Crennel.

Crennel said he based his decision on the Pro Bowl QB's inconsistent play, Cleveland's poor offensive ranking and the club's disappointing 3-5 record at the season's halfway point.

"I felt like we needed a different dynamic on the offense," said Crennel, who added that he had been considering a Quinn-for-Anderson swap "for a while now."

Quinn A Gamble

With a short week of preparation for Thursday's home game against the Denver Broncos, the Cleveland Browns are taking a risk by moving Brady Quinn into the starting lineup.

However, Quinn's athleticism and his support from the hometown fans should help him ease into the transition, Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson writes. Story

The switch came one day after Anderson threw a costly interception late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 37-27 loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens. Thousands of Cleveland fans, who have been enamored with idea of Quinn under center almost from the moment he arrived, responded to the pick by chanting "Bra-dy! Bra-dy!" in the final minutes.

The timing of the change -- coming in a short week with the Browns hosting Denver on Thursday night -- has prompted some to wonder if Crennel was obeying orders from higher in the organization or perhaps reacting to public pressure.

Crennel, though, maintains it was his decision alone to go with Quinn, the former Notre Dame star who will make his first NFL start against the Broncos (4-4).

"The short week had nothing to do with it," Crennel said. "It was just time, so I did it. We're not throwing in the towel. We're not giving up on the season. We're going to beat Denver."

Browns linebacker Willie McGinest, who also played for Crennel in New England, said the abruptness of the decision seemed to go against the coach's steady-as-she-goes nature.

"There you go," said McGinest, who plans to retire following this season, his 15th. "You figure out where it's coming from then. Your guess is better than mine. I can't get involved in those type of theories, or who made the call. ... it's a decision somebody decided to make, or a collective group decided to make."

Anderson, who led the Browns to 10 wins last season, was shocked by his demotion. But the soft-spoken, rocket-armed 25-year-old understands the rationale behind the change.

"We didn't win enough games," he said. "We're 3-5. That's how it is in this league. It's a bottom-line thing. RAC [Crennel] has always told us that, you've got to win. That's kind of how things go and a lot of times it goes to the quarterback."

Anderson threw six interceptions in his first four games, but he had just one in his previous four and seemed to be getting himself turned around. It didn't help him that No. 1 wide receiver Braylon Edwards had dropped 14 passes and that he hasn't had his full complement of targets with Joe Jurevicius out for the season and Donte' Stallworth slowed by injuries.

"Obviously it is a team game and I can only control what I can control," Anderson said. "Obviously it's tough getting your job taken away from you. It means a lot to me, I put a lot of effort into it, and that's probably the hardest thing for me."

The Browns now turn to the wildly popular Quinn, whose No. 10 jersey was already in demand and should see another spike in sales. Quinn has prepared for the possibility he'll get into a game by studying film, directing the scout team and helping Anderson get ready. Now, he's the one in the spotlight -- and under the magnifying glass.

Quinn hasn't played in such a meaningful game since Jan. 3, 2007, when he made his final start for the Fighting Irish against LSU in the Sugar Bowl.

"Yeah, it's been a little while," he said, laughing. "I'll have to dust off the ol' cleats and shoulder pads and everything. It's going to be fun to get back out there."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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