For the past few decades, virtually every NFL coach has approached the preseason in the exact same way.

Starters – namely quarterbacks – have their playing time limited, allowing them to play just a bit more each week to lower the risk of injury while also getting back in game shape.

But one NFL coach has a revolutionary idea about the preseason that left others shaking their heads.

When it comes to the preseason, there has been much debate between teams, coaches, players, fans, and the media over its usefulness and place in the future of the league.

Some – mostly teams and coaches – feel it’s invaluable to their success, allowing players a chance to knock the rust off and polish things up before the real season begins.

Others – mainly players and some fans – believe it’s rather worthless, and not worth the risk of injury to have star players risking their season, or more, for meaningless games.

But while most coaches disagree with that sentiment, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay isn’t one of them.

Since he became the Rams head coach in 2017, McVay has been one of the only coaches in the NFL to have a hard a fast rule barring his key players from playing in preseason games.

Instead of playing his key players, McVay has used the preseason as a chance for the bottom-of-the-roster players to showcase their ability, allowing them more opportunities to impress the coaches and secure a roster spot.

And although last season appeared to show the Rams had taken a step back – failing to advance past the Divisional round of the playoffs a year after a Super Bowl appearance – and the team is in the process of breaking in a new quarterback in former Detroit Lion Matthew Stafford, McVay isn’t changing that approach either.

In fact, McVay is actually going a step further with Stafford, and has declared that there is “zero chance” his quarterback ever touches the field in a meaningless game.

“There is zero chance you will ever see Matthew Stafford take a snap in the preseason for the Rams as long as I’m the coach. That will never happen,” McVay recently told the Doug Gottlieb Show. “He is not going to play.”

McVay went on to explain that instead of risking Stafford – the player most pivotal to the Rams’ success this season – in meaningless games, he’s chosen instead to focus on holding joint practices with teams like the Raiders and Cowboys.

In McVay’s eyes, allowing his team to essentially scrimmage other teams in a practice setting allows his quarterback – and other key players – to get competitive reps, while also being able to all but eliminate the risk of Stafford being injured as, unlike preseason games, contact with quarterbacks is always completely off limits for the defense in such scenarios.

“That’s why it’s important for us to try to get competitive ‘opps’ against some of these other teams in practice settings,” McVay explained. “Practicing against the Cowboys this Saturday. Get the Raiders twice. So we’re always looking for those things.”

The 2017 NFL Coach of the Year concluded his explanation by saying that until there’s some way for his team to get back any regular season games his quarterback or other key players miss because they were injured in the preseason, he refuses to play them.

“Until you tell me that if a guy gets hurt in the preseason that we’ll get those games back or they’ll add them on the schedule afterwards as, ‘Oh yeah, you get two games because you lost those guys in the preseason,’ it’s hard for me to make sense of it,” McVay said.

Considering the amount of key players that have been lost in the preseason over the years, and the unnecessary risks associated with meaningless games, it’s hard to argue with McVay’s thinking.

Besides, when it comes to virtually every team in the NFL, their key players are generally veteran players, guys who’ve been through the ringer and do not need meaningless games to learn the playbook or play at their best.

Outside of the extra revenue owners can generate from requiring season ticket holders to purchase preseason tickets in order to maintain their seats, the only benefit of the preseason is the opportunity it provides fringe roster players to showcase their ability.

There is simply no reason guys like Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, or other All-Pro caliber players should be risking their seasons in meaningless games. Period.

For now, Sean McVay’s approach is an outlier, and that probably won’t be changing in the immediate future.

But there’s no doubt that McVay is simply ahead of his time, and ultimately, as the league’s older coaches begin to phase out of the game, other younger coaches will also adopt McVay’s anti-preseason approach.

It’s only a matter of time.

*Sports With Balls Official Polling*