Bills head coach Doug Marrone has dealt with bye weeks before, but with Buffalo's week off the latest in the league he adjusted his plan for his coaches and more importantly his players.
"I've never experienced a bye this late," said Marrone. "I'm just taking the approach of let's get ourselves healthy, let's get ready to make a push and let's go."
Typically Marrone would schedule a couple of days of practice before the players took some time off, but he did not schedule a single on field session.
Doug Marrone: "All of our focus is going to be on winning"
"We really concentrated on just getting our players flushed out meaning the soreness and we did a lot of weight training and pushed them hard in the weight room and pushed them hard running," said Marrone.
"If we had a bye earlier, I think we'd do things differently. Normally, we do some work during that time, earlier (in the season) you're going to do more work—in the middle (of the season) you're going to do a little work. At the end and where we are right now, I think it's more important to get everybody rested and ready to make a strong finish."
To a man Bills players were in support of coach Marrone's plan for the bye week.
"When you start creeping into the last month of the year, guys can get a little bit leg weary, rookies are starting to hit that proverbial wall where their seasons are ending and we've got five or six games left," said Kyle Williams. "It's a good time for us to decompress and get away, but also get re-charged for when we get back here for what's in front of us."
As for the coaching staff they've already put the majority of the game plan together with some minor tweaks made after the results of Atlanta's Thursday night game against New Orleans.
"As coaches we were able to get the game plan ready," said Marrone. "We'll take some time over the weekend to recharge ourselves. We'll come back and I think it's important to make sure that we're rested up and fired up to go. I give a lot of credit to the coaches."
Before the players left for their four-day layoff, coaches reminded players to avoid the pitfalls that can sometimes make life more difficult than it needs to be for players.
"We talked to the players," said Marrone. "We gave them some examples of what's gone on with other players during some of the bye weeks. We talked about how important it is for our focus. We talked about keeping the structure and being careful.
"When players leave, no matter what team, especially young ones, they're back into their families—a lot of things can come upon them, meaning responsibilities and problems. I told them, be very careful and specific in what you do. Make sure you rest. We don't want you leaving and coming back with more problems."
Marrone is expecting a fully healthy team to return to One Bills Drive on Monday, when the team will conduct their first practice of the week. Prior to the bye the Bills head coach said had they had a game on Sunday everyone would've been available.
And while the players are getting some well deserved rest Marrone and his staff don't want the players completely decompressing knowing there are five games left in the regular season.
"It's just a bye as we explained it to them, but it's not the end of the season," Marrone said. "We want to make sure that they come back with the proper mindset and that they're ready to go. We talked to them about nutrition, lifting and conditioning while they're away."
"When we get back it's going to be all business, and we understand we have to come back ready to play," said EJ Manuel.
"We're disappointed with where we are, but we have five games where we can change that and build a foundation for what we have," said Marrone. "We don't want to look too far down the road and really coming back all of our focus is going to be on winning a game and beating Atlanta."