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Are the Rams better off limiting pressure on McNabb?

Bradley Fletcher and the St. Louis Rams secondary loves to cover wide receivers, especially with hugs.
Bradley Fletcher and the St. Louis Rams secondary loves to cover wide receivers, especially with hugs.

After losses to Bruce Gradkowski and Derek Anderson, this week's matchup with Donovan McNabb does not bode well for the St. Louis Rams

That is not meant to suggest that the Rams defense has not played well; they have played very well, especially considering the lack of assistance they've received from the offense, where the team's real problems seem to be...again. Nevertheless, the thought of facing a team that's been able to average more than 400 passing yards in two games does suggest matchup problems for the Rams. Last week, the defensive line never got much pressure on Oakland's QB in the  second half. 

Matchup data this week suggests a lack of pressure from the line might not be such a bad thing for the Rams this week. Football Outsiders' week 3 Number Crunching post at ESPN (Behind the Insider wall) mentions this tidbit about the Rams matchup with McNabb:

In 2009, McNabb was the second-best quarterback in the league when pressured, behind only Aaron Rodgers, while the Rams had the league's 30th-ranked defense against quarterbacks under pressure.

With a Washington team struggling to run the ball, sitting back in tight coverage might be a useful tactic for the Rams defense. So far, the Rams' secondary has been one of the team's strongest units. The Rams pass defense has a -8.4 percent DVOA, thanks in large part to the strong play of starting corners Bradley Fletcher and Ron Bartell as well as FS Oshiomogho Atogwe and SS Craig Dahl. There are injury concerns this week around the two starting safeties, but Atogwe seems likely to play and Dahl passed his first post-concussion test. 

Hopefully, they'll have nickel corners Justin King and Kevin Dockery this week as well. 

Pulling back from generating pressure on the QB, might also help the Rams in smothering TE Chris Cooley who has 275 yards and 2 TDs in 4 career games against the Rams. Cooley has 144 yards and TD in two games this season. 

If the Rams can lock down Cooley and Washington's receivers in coverage, it should force Washington to run the ball more, something they've struggled with. 

If the Rams offense can score some points...well, who knows what might happen.