Change was coming, Romeo Crennel said at lunchtime on the Monday after 2008 got away. What change? Crennel zipped a lip. Crennel was asked if Derek Anderson was still his starting quarterback.

Change was coming, Romeo Crennel said at lunchtime on the Monday after 2008 got away.

What change? Crennel zipped a lip. Crennel was asked if Derek Anderson was still his starting quarterback.

“As of right now,” the Browns head coach said.

Must have been quite a lunch. By dinnertime, the Browns were confirming that Brady Quinn will make his first NFL start Thursday night against Denver.

Losing a two-touchdown lead against Baltimore on Sunday dropped Anderson’s record as a starting quarterback to an unlucky 13-13.

“Offensively,” Crennel said, “we were unable to get anything going in the running game or in the passing game, so that combination hurt us. We didn’t take advantage of some field position that we got in the second half.”

Anderson went 17-of-33 for 219 yards. His job security might have been fine up to the point he was 16-of-26, at which point he dropped back on third-and-8, trailing 30-27 with three minutes left, with the ball near midfield.

“The problem on that play was (Haloti) Ngata was on top of him,” Crennel said.

Anderson hurried to unload the ball.

“(Running back Jason) Wright didn’t get turned around quite quickly enough, and the pressure is on (Anderson),” Crennel said. “Either he’s going to take the sack, which in that situation you really didn’t want.

“If you were going to do anything, you’d rather throw the ball away so that you don’t lose the yards.”

Instead, Anderson threw the ball to Ravens sack artist Terrell Suggs, who ran it 42 yards for a touchdown.

“The pressure didn’t allow the time to read the coverage, per se,” Crennel said.

The pressure of playing for a long-term starting job has been hard on Anderson, who was best in 2007 when playing with a breezy nonchalance, letting his big arm take him and the team for a ride.

Always, Quinn was waiting in the wings, an obvious presence in that the Browns spent heavily to trade up for him in last year’s draft. There have been constant reminders that Quinn is in the wings. One time in training camp, Anderson walked by a young autograph seeker, offering to sign.

“I’m waiting for Brady,” the kid said, withdrawing an autograph pad.

Quinn seems 100 yards ahead of Anderson in popularity but is a mile behind in experience. Aside from occasional change-of-pace plays on which Joshua Cribbs takes a shotgun snap, Anderson has been the quarterback throughout the first half.

Including Sunday’s 17-of-33 outing against Baltimore, Anderson’s NFL career totals are 485 completions in 887 attempts for 6,034 yards. Quinn is still sitting on his totals from his lone NFL appearance in the 2007 season finale against San Francisco: 3-of-8, 45 yards. Braylon Edwards dropped a short, would-be touchdown pass. Maybe it was a sign.

With the Browns fading from relevance, speculation heats up as to whether Quinn might finally see some action. Media crowded around his locker Monday for the first time in a while.

His appearance was timed to allow for only a couple of questions. What did he think of the “Bra-dy” chants late in Sunday’s 37-27 loss?

“Not a whole lot,” he said. “We lost the game. Really, to me that’s all that matters.”

It was mentioned to Quinn that he would beat Anderson handily if the quarterback question were put to a vote.

“That’s something that … in the NFL everybody always loves the backup,” Quinn said. “That’s just how it is. It’s not any different anywhere else.”

A while later, players were beginning to learn that Quinn is the Browns’ new starting quarterback.

Does that mean everyone loves Anderson now?

Bottom line: A season on the brink suddenly takes on a new fascination.

QUINN IN 2008

Brady Quinn hasn’t played a down in a real game this year. Here’s a look at his four preseason appearances:

Opponent    Att.-Cmp., Pct.    Yds.    TDs    Ints. Rating

Jets        13-17, 76.5    133    0    1    73.9
at Giants    7-12, 58.3        124    1    0    121.5
at Lions    14-24, 58.3    106    0    0    69.1
Bears    10-16, 77.8    65    0    0    96.8

Totals    41-62, 66.1    428    1    1    84.6

Note: Quinn was not sacked in any game.