Not only did we start a 6th round rookie inside but we lost the leagues best run stopping outside linebacker in James Harrison.
In 2012, aging JH MISSED SEPTEMBER, and had more tackles than CLAY MATTHEWS has EVER had in a season.
We don't have to guess. When we had quality linebackers, it made NO STATISTICAL DIFFERENCE, whether Casey was in or not. McClendon played PLENTY in 2012 and we showed no weakness based on him being in the game.
We were the number one defense in the league, the best record in team history with Hoke starting in place of Casey who was injured most of the season.
This team is 17-1 in games when Hoke started.
During September 2012 we averaged 100 Yards rushing allowed. 88 the rest of the way. And THAT year we did not have a 6th round rookie starting inside.
I know it sounds "smart" to say (in the elitist voice of Mr Howell ) "the educated fan sees the unheralded value of the nose tackle in freeing up the linebackers"....blah, blah, blah. I say that job does not require an elite skill set.
Do you REALLY THINK we have a top ranked run defense with an average set of linebackers regardless the NT? It has never happened.
We proceed to lose two of our top three run defenders, 3 out of 4 if you count Farrior from the year before at LBer and losing CASEY is the problem?
I CAN say we have been the best defense in the league with a nose tackle (Hoke) who came out of college not being able to crack the all "Mountain West" team replacing our 1st round pick probowl NT. We all saw no difference in McClendon and Casey in 2012, many in fact were excited in what they saw in McClendon.