PHILADELPHIA - Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance with San Francisco, Eagles defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga is also expecting big things from his new team in the 2013 season.
"We are here to hunt, we are here to win," Sopoaga said during his introductory press conference at the NovaCare Complex. "I promise you that we are going to shock the world."
Sopoaga wasn't predicting the Eagles' first trip to the Super Bowl since the 2004 season, but he believes that new Eagles coach Chip Kelly's innovative offense and an aggressive defense will take the NFL by surprise.
Kelly, who was hired on Jan. 16 to replace Andy Reid, is regarded as an offensive guru who lit up scoreboards with a read-option attack at the University of Oregon.
"Chip Kelly is bringing a book that other teams in the NFL haven't seen, yet," said Sopoaga, who signed a three-year contract with the Eagles after eight seasons with the 49ers. "He's bringing in the perfect players for his offense, defense and special teams. As for me, I'm going to bring my leadership."
That quality was lacking in the Eagles' locker room the last two years, which partly explains their 12-20 record in that span. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and quarterback Michael Vick tried to fill the void, but are more prone to leading by example.
When Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman began preparing for the free-agency signing period, they focused on players who could help both on and off the field. They are counting on Sopoaga and other newcomers such as tight end/fullback James Casey and safety Patrick Cheung to not only upgrade the team on the field, but also change the culture.
It was not a coincidence that four of the five players they signed on Tuesday - Casey (Houston), Cheung (New England), linebacker Jason Phillips (Baltimore), Sopoaga (San Francisco) - played for teams that reached the playoffs last season.
"It was important for us to get the right people for our team not only schematically, but also culturally," Roseman said Wednesday while introducing Casey and Sopoaga to the media. "We went after guys who would be the right fit for us. The character, durability and level of play all factor into going after a player."