This is all conjecture, but I disagree. The performance of the defense is linked (not completely) to the performance of the offense. The entire team was effected by the suspensions and the loss of Payton.
ETA: With Payton at the helm there is no way our defense gives up 7000+ yards.
Dude, we were the worst defense ever. On a 7-9 team. If anything, it is a miracle our offense got us to 7-9. Now, a couple of games are on the offense, but when you have to score 30 points every game to win, it's the defense. Detroit was 0-16 and theren't as bad as our defense was.