Would Payton have magically fixed your defense?
Payton would've had a more balanced attack on offense keeping the defense off the field. There were several times, especially earlier in the season where the offense became incredibly predictable and drives were stalled. This is the area Payton was missed most. A big problem with the 0-4 start was also the major shake up; Not having Vitt there to run the team caused 2 major problems
A) It left Kromer at head coach where he couldn't focus on the o-line at all. And in the first 6 games, the offensive line stuggled very much.
B) There wasn't a rah rah type of guy leading the team and jumping on their arse to give a sense of urgency.
I believe that with Vitt here all season this is probably a 10 win season, with Payton it would've been 10-12 wins.
I think the Falcons still would've won the division, but the sense of continuity and leaderships would've had this team in the playoffs. Everything that made this team what it is was knocked out of whack, and there's no denying that. There's too much talent on the team to not get in,