Monday, November 30, 2015

Eagles free agents prepared to 'shock the world'

The Eagles introduced tight end/fullback James Casey and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga, and both expressed optimism about leaving established playoff teams for a franchise coming off a four-win season with an established head coach.

Eagles free agents prepared to 'shock the world'


The Eagles introduced tight end/fullback James Casey and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga, and both expressed optimism about leaving established playoff teams for a franchise coming off a four-win season with an established head coach.

"We are here to hunt, we are here to win," Sopoaga said. "I promise that we're going to shock the world."

Kelly was a draw to both players. Casey, 28, is a versatile player from the Houston Texans who will be used in different ways in Philadelphia. Kelly compared it to having a "new toy," and made repeated references to the way the Patriots use tight ends.

"With Coach Kelly coming in here, I thought it was a great fit for me," Casey said. "It was a pretty easy decision for me going into yesterday and today. I think I'm hopefully going to get a place in the offense in these coming years. I feel it's the best place for me to showcase what I can do."

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Casey added that there were many interested teams, and the Texans wanted to bring him back. But when he realized what he could do in Kelly's offense with the understanding of Kelly's system at Oregon, the decision was not complicated. 

Kelly also discussed Sopoaga's versatility, saying Sopoaga can play nose tackle but also defensive tackle in a four-man front. This is partially Kelly's way of maintaining ambiguity about his system, but it also speaks to what the Eagles are looking for in players. 

At 31, Sopoaga is the oldest of the five free agents the Eagles signed. He comes from the 49ers, where he reached the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl in the two past two seasons. That helped instill with him the confidence to make the "shock the world" comment.

"I want to bring my leadership, like how I used it in my previous team, here," Sopoaga said. "And coach Kelly has a solid book that teams in this league haven't seen yet. They've seen it in college, but we're going to utilize it in this level of professional football."

Although it made for a soundbite, that's an attitude that Kelly welcomes. He does not know want his teams to be boastful, but he's looking for confidence. And bringing two players who've become used to winning in recent seasons to a franchise near the bottom of the NFL standing is a place to start.

"If you don't plan on coming in here and winning, then we're not going to talk to you," Kelly said. "The statements he makes is exactly what everyone in this program feels and what it's all about. But we also know it's not about talk. What you say in March and what you say in April really has nothing to do with what you do on Sunday if that's all you do is talk. And the one thing I know about Isaac and I know about James is they have unbelievable work ethics. That's the key for us, to get a bunch of guys who aren't afraid to get down and dirty and go to work. We're in a blue-collar town, and we got a bunch of blue-collar guys, that are going to go to work every single day. And we'll pick our heads up sometime in January and see who's good enough."

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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

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