Eagles assistant Ted Williams says flexibility is key to longevity

Ted Williams spent 16 of his 19 seasons with the Eagles coaching running backs. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff
Ted Williams spent 16 of his 19 seasons with the Eagles coaching running backs. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff
Posted: February 15, 2013

In a job in which instability is often a defining feature, Ted Williams clearly has bucked the trend with the Eagles.

From Ray Rhodes to Andy Reid and now Chip Kelly, Williams is working for his third Eagles head coach, a record 19th season with the team as an assistant coach.

Things are coming full circle for the 69-year-old Williams. He began his career as the Eagles tight ends coach. After two seasons, he switched to coaching running backs, a job he held for the last 16 years.

Next season, he will return as the tight ends coach, with former Eagles rusher Duce Staley taking over as running backs coach.

Whether switching jobs or working under different coaches, Williams says the ability to stay flexible is the key to coaching.

"You don't so much worry about adjusting to people as to what the agenda is, and the agenda is to produce a successful program to win," Williams said recently. "I don't think Ray deviated from Andy and Andy to Chip in those regards."

For Williams, it comes down to one goal.

"We are all about the same thing - trying to produce a winner, which this league is all about," he said.

Kelly, coming from the University of Oregon and never having coached in the NFL, quickly understood why Williams has been valued so long by the Eagles. Like other members of the staff, the new coach was most impressed by the wisdom that Williams offers.

"Just sitting with Ted and sharing some stories about how he approaches things and what his teaching approach was like, I needed Ted to stay," Kelly said. "I want him to be a part of this because there are a lot of times that I'm not going to have all the answers, and I'll probably wear the carpet out between my office and Ted's office to ask him about certain scenarios because he has seen so much."

During his first two seasons as an Eagles assistant, Staley was the special teams quality-control coach. In that role, he assisted with special teams but also worked closely with Williams and the running backs.

For Staley, who was coached by Williams as an Eagles running back, being able to work so closely under him the last two years was invaluable.

"I learned so much from Ted, and he told me to never hesitate to ask him any questions," Staley said. "You just get so much knowledge and wisdom from Ted."

Williams spent 15 years coaching in college and was the secondary coach at the University of Arizona in 1994, the year before he was hired by the Eagles. He also had assistant-coaching stints at Washington State and UCLA.

Two members of the profession whom Williams has patterned himself after are Dick Hoak and Jim Anderson. Hoak, who was Pittsburgh's running backs coach when he retired after the 2006 season, was a Steelers assistant for 35 years. Anderson just retired after 29 years as the Cincinnati Bengals running backs coach.

"I held Dick Hoak and Jimmy Anderson in high esteem and said that one day I wanted to emulate them and do the kind of things that kept them in one place," Williams said.

Williams said he doesn't anticipate a difficult transition in his return to coaching tight ends.

"I have done it before," he said. "Times have changed a little since the last time I did it, and it becomes my task to determine how much they have changed and what I need to do."

Not Only a Coach

Eagles tight ends coach Ted Williams, 69, has done a lot more in his life than coach football. Consider this:

He was a basketball and baseball star at Centennial High School in Compton, Calif.

Williams is a 1966 graduate of Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in biological sciences and physical education.

He earned a master's degree, a second undergraduate degree in zoological science, and his teaching-administration credentials from Cal State-Los Angeles in 1968.

Williams worked for more than a decade as a coach, teacher, and athletic director at Compton (Calif.) High.

He was head coach at Los Angeles City College in 1980, but a short time later joined the UCLA staff.

He and his wife, Theresa, have three sons, Darryl, Donald, and Daniel, and a daughter, Terri.

Source: Eagles

See Eagles tight ends coach Ted Williams talk about his longevity as an assistant coach at philly.com/eaglesvideos

Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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