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.”