It is fully anticipated that the Philadelphia Eagles would ultimately prefer to switch from a 4-3 front on defense to a 3-4 this season, and likely will be spending much of Chip Kelly‘s first year as an NFL head coach playing a hybrid system.
For that reason alone, Isaac Sopoaga‘s signing in the opening days of free agency this past March made perfect sense. Throw in his leadership skills and Super Bowl experience, and it is almost a no brainer why the Birds made the 31-year old Samoan one of their top offseason priorities.
“I believe and I promise that we are going to shock the world,” new nose tackle Issac Sopoaga said at his introductory press conference. “I believe that Coach Kelly has a big solid book out there for us. We’re willing and anxious to test it and show it in action.”
Sopoaga inked his deal with the Eagles one month after falling to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. That sort of experience will be tantamount to the foundation of the program Kelly hopes to build in Philadelphia.
“If you don’t plan on coming here and winning, then we’re not going to talk to you,” Kelly said. “So the statements that [Sopoaga] makes that is exactly how everybody in this football program feels and what it’s all about. We also know it’s not about talk because what you say in March and what you say in April doesn’t have anything to do with what you do on Sundays if that’s all you do is talk.
“One thing I do know about Isaac and I do know about James [Casey] is that they both have unbelievable work ethics. And that is the key for us. It’s 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, we got a bunch of blue-collar guys that are going to work every single day. We’ll pick our heads up some time in January and see if it’s good enough.”
Sopoaga will likely anchor the nose tackle position along with third-round draft choice Bennie Logan this season, despite the fact that he probably will not be a three-down player at this point in his career.
San Francisco’s fourth-round draft choice out of Hawaii in 2004, Sopoaga played in 125 games for the 49ers since 2005, starting in 71 of them. During his tenure in San Francisco, he has accumulated 217 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. In the 49ers’ five playoff games games, Sopoaga has 10 tackles and one sack.
It is that type of production that the Eagles hope Sopoaga can bring and set a winning example for a defense that not only is looking to rebound, but also forge a new identity.
Matt Lombardo is also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.
* All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.