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Analysis: Why Releasing Aaron Rouse Was A Good Move

I should have linked to Tom Pelissero's excellent breakdown of the Green Bay Packers loss to the Bengals two days ago, but better late then never.:

♦ S Aaron Rouse was productive (nine tackles) in place of SS Atari Bigby, particularly in run support, but as usual, Rouse had some glaring errors as well. He took a poor leverage angle on the third-and-34 screen the Bengals converted, then was supposed to be playing deep zone on the next play, when Palmer hit WR Chad Ochocinco for 44 on a flea-flicker.

From Mike McCarthy:

Q:  Was Rouse's performance on Sunday the catalyst for the move?
A:  You never want to go off of just one performance. These decisions are made with a lot of information. 

Most comments on his release have been negative. That was my first reaction too. But, as McCarthy said, this isn't a decision made after one game. After a good rookie season, he had some bad games last season in pass coverage and he took some bad angles to the ball. The disaster last season in New Orleans stands out in my mind. And 2008 wasn't a one year fluke. The scouting report, when he came into the NFL, said he struggled in pass coverage

He'll probably end up somewhere in the NFL again, but he probably shouldn't be starting with his shortcomings in pass coverage. And there is the added benefit of adding S Matt Giordanowho made a lot of fans during his time with the Colts, and is probably healthier since Rouse suffered a neck stinger in the game against the Bengals.

And he's also a great special teams player, which was one of the reasons McCarthy mentioned for releasing Rouse. The Packers were bad on special teams last week, again from Tom Pelissero:

♦ P Jeremy Kapinos’ punts were too straight and low, but the coverage unit could have stopped PR Quan Cosby from breaking two big returns. Instead, Jeremy Thompson left his lane on one, giving Cosby a chasm to the near sideline for 60, and Chillar took a poor angle on the other, letting himself get pancaked as Cosby circled back to the far sideline for 32. The Bengals turned those returns into 10 points. 

They could have kept Rouse for depth and instead released FB Quinn Johnson or LB Brad Jones since neither has been active for a game in 2009. But the coaches apparently have faith that recently acquired S Derrick Martin can start if S Nick Collins can't go on Sunday. S Jarrett Bush has struggled as a cornerback, but he's much better when only asked to help in coverage as a safety. With Bush, Martin, and Giordano available on Sunday, and CB Charles Woodson available to play safety in case of an emergency, the depth should be fine until Collins and S Atari Bigby return.