Williams embracing different role under Eagles' new regime


Williams embracing different role under Eagles' new regime

He had been with the Eagles for 18 years. He wasn’t sure whether there would be a 19th season.

Ted Williams has been a fixture in Philadelphia for almost two decades, and yet he hasn’t gotten much attention. He served under Ray Rhodes. He served under Andy Reid. He wanted to keep serving the Eagles organization but he wasn’t sure that would happen. When one head coach is fired and someone new replaces him, there tends to be quite a bit of turnover.

Williams, who had been the Eagles’ running backs coach for the last 16 years, wanted to stick around and work with Chip Kelly, but he was also prepared to say goodbye. He was ready for all sorts of scenarios.

“After 18 years, you kind of say to yourself ‘Anything is possible,” Williams said. “Fortunately, I was in a position, in my own mind, to go, stay or do nothing. It worked out in my favor, but I was never at a point where I lost a lot of sleep over it.”

Williams said he’s always felt as though the organization is “pro Ted Williams” and that he would be afforded every opportunity to “interview and make an impression” with Kelly. That’s what happened. Williams, along with Duce Staley, is one of only two coaches from the Reid administration to be retained by Kelly.

“All in all, it’s how you get along with other people that really matters,” Williams said at the NovaCare Complex. “We kind of sold each other in terms of what [Kelly] was looking for and was I able and willing to do what he wanted done. I think we came to a mutual agreement right away that I didn’t have an ego, and I wasn’t one of those individuals who gets older and gets set in his ways.”

That’s probably a good thing, because Williams’ ways are about to change. After what he emphasized was “a long time” as the Eagles’ running backs coach, Williams will serve as the Eagles’ tight ends coach in the Kelly regime.

It’s not an entirely new pursuit for Williams -- though it has been a while since he coached the position. Under Rhodes, Williams coached tight ends for two seasons. As Williams admitted, a lot has changed since then.

In recent seasons, the emergence of players such as Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham -- along with the continued success of Tony Gonzalez -- has altered how some teams use their tight ends. Williams noted that, during his last stint coaching the position, tight ends weren’t necessarily seen as a potentially dangerous offensive option.

“When I was a tight ends coach, they weren’t so involved in the passing game as they are now,” Williams said. “Even though they’ve evolved to a passing-game tight end, there are still some things we did 16 years ago that they need to learn how to do.”

Brent Celek led the Eagles’ tight ends last year with 57 catches on 87 targets for 684 yards. He also had a touchdown. Williams said he’s still in the process of evaluating the team’s talent at the position -- along with how he can use those players in a forward-thinking approach.

“For me, the process is to ascertain how far the position has come since I coached it,” Williams admitted. “That’s a real process. The things that were done 16, 17 years ago, some of them are not done anymore. Some things that we used to do are done better now. That’s my challenge. To be enthusiastic and energetic about learning new things and processing new things, so I can be a better coach.”

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).