Williams embracing different role under Eagles' new regime

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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 NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).