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Philadelphia Eagles News

Chip Kelly, Howie Roseman, James Casey and Isaac Sopoaga



HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "Thanks for coming.  We're excited to introduce these two guys today as Philadelphia Eagles.  This process was a team effort.  You have coaches involved, you have personnel people involved, administrative people, contract people, a great tribute to the agents and the people on our side including Aileen Daly and Jake Rosenberg and all our personnel staff.  We're extremely excited to have these two guys not only as players but as character guys.

Coach came in here and talked about getting tempo setters for our football team, and we think we added that today."

CHIP KELLY:  "I think with the guys that we just acquired, probably the common theme is not only are they outstanding football players but they're outstanding off the field, too, and it takes a lot to be a professional football player, and if you're not all in, 24/7, 365, then it becomes very, very difficult.  Kind of identifying who we wanted to become part of the Eagles organization, that was just as important as how fast are they and how strong are they.  You've got two guys sitting right next to me that we're excited to add them to the group of people we have now, two outstanding quality guys that are really going to be tempo setters for this football program in terms of how we want to practice.  We've done a great job in terms of their background and what they're all about along with assessing them from an evaluation standpoint on film of what they can do.  And excited to have them here, and two guys that I think will become really, really quickly fan favorites here in Philadelphia."

JAMES CASEY:  "I want to say thanks to Mr. Lurie and Mr. Roseman and Coach Kelly for bringing me in and giving me this opportunity.  I'm excited to be here, excited to get to know the city of Philadelphia and get to work, getting to meet my teammates and doing everything I possibly can to help the Eagles win.  So that's what the job is now is to get to work.  I've worked extremely hard to get to this point and I don't plan on stopping now.  I feel like I've got to work harder and set bigger goals and do everything I can to help us win games, and excited to get started."

ISAAC SOPOAGA:  "Talofa and Aloha.  My name is Isaac Michelangelo Sopoaga.  First and foremost I would like to give thanks to our heavenly Father for this great opportunity, this wonderful lovely day that we are here as one, for our family here in the Philadelphia media people, get to know us, me and our brother here."

"It will be a new member, a new family for our home team here, the Philadelphia Eagles.  Thank you so much for having us and for also the heart to invite myself, my wife Tumua who's sitting right there as well as the brother here (James Casey).

"We are here to hunt.  We are here to win.  We are here, and I believe and I promise that we are going to shock the world, and I believe that Coach Kelly has a big solid book out there for us, and we're willing and anxious to taste it and to show it and to show it in action.

"Once again, thank you.  Thank you so much for having us."

Q.  Chip, what kind of versatility does James bring to your offense?

CHIP KELLY:  "Extremely versatile, and one of the qualities we really liked about him.  He's got a unique path to the National Football League being a pro baseball player and then entering into Rice and actually starting as a linebacker, then moving to defensive end and then moving over to offense, playing quarterback, played running back, played receiver, played tight end, played seven positions in one game.  He was only in college for two years, but that kind of versatility really shines when you see him play on tape.  Played fullback for the Texans, played tight end for the Texans, played slot receiver for them.

"So as a coach it's almost like you kind of got a new toy when there's a lot of different spots you can put him in because he's got a background in it and he's extremely smart, extremely intelligent.

"It's interesting, we do want to have a contest to see who could throw the ball farther, either him or Sope because I know Sope can throw it about 75 yards.  So we've got two guys that may even have to play quarterback for us at some point in time.

"But his versatility is really one of the keys to us acquiring him.  He was a guy we targeted right away when free agency started, a guy that can really come into our program and have a big effect on what we're going to do."

Q.  Chip, you mentioned the versatility of James.  Seems, too, yourself you don't like to be kind of pegged into a certain box.  Are those the type of players you want specifically on offense, versatile type players that can do different things, even at running back, at wide receiver, and is James perhaps the direction you're going in on offense?

CHIP KELLY:  "Yeah, I think on both sides of the ball.  I think the versatility that you can present to defenses is when you have a certain grouping in a game that's not only one thing you can do, and I think the teams that have been successful doing it, you know, when you watch the Patriots line up Aaron Hernandez all over the place, is he going to be at tight end, is he going to be at receiver, is he going to be at running back, it makes it very difficult for the defense.  They don't know at the beginning of the play where people are going to line up and what they're going to do.  It keeps them on their toes.

"We want guys who can do that.  You really get pigeon holed when you have one dimensional players, and when you do, it makes it a little bit easier for defenses to go out there and understand what's going to go on in certain formations."

*Q.  On the defensive side of the ball you're getting players it seems like that have played in a 3 4, and I know you said you haven't really decided on what kind of scheme, but are we getting more of an indication of what kind of scheme we're going to see on the defensive side of the ball, one that is going to be a hybrid?  Or do we know what direction *

CHIP KELLY:  "Actually the only two guys we can even talk football to are these two, so we still haven't had a chance to sit down with our players and that won't happen until April 1st.  But along the same lines defensively the versatility that Sope brings in terms of what he can do, he can line up as a nose and has done a tremendous job in this league doing it, but he also can provide an inside pass rush and a four down defense and push the pocket, so that's the same thing.  The more versatile you are with players, more than being a one dimensional guy, I think it helps us as a group, and the one thing about the National Football League is you only have 46 guys active on game day.  So you'd better have some versatility not only on the offensive side of the ball but on the defensive side of the ball to make it a team that's a little bit difficult to defend or to attack because you don't know exactly what they're going to present in terms of what fronts they're going to give you from a defensive standpoint."

Q.  For both James and Isaac, I'm sure there's other teams that both you guysstart with James.  Why did you choose or want to come here to the Philadelphia Eagles?

JAMES CASEY: "Yeah, starting this weekend I was just talking with my agent about the possibilities out there, and I knew that Houston wanted me back, as well.  But there wasmy agent was saying there's a lot of interest out there amongst other teams, but with Coach Kelly coming in here I thought it was a great fit for me.  It was actually kind of a pretty easy decision for me going into yesterday and today.  I felt like this was the best place for me because it'sI think I'm hopefully going to get some opportunities in the offense these coming years, and it's just I think the best place for me to be able to showcase what I can do, and hopefully I can help the team best here.  I'm excited about it.

"Of course I've never experienced free agency, I don't know how any of that stuff works, but it seemed like it was an easy process for me.  Once I knew the Eagles were interested and they made an offer, it was a perfect fit for me."

Q.  You said you're going to shock the world, the Eagles are going to shock the world.  What would define shocking the world and what gives you the confidence that this team will do that?

ISAAC SOPOAGA:  "I want to bring my leadership like I used it back in my previous team here, and then plus, Coach Kelly has a solid book that teams in this league haven't seen it yet.  They've seen it in college, and I believe there'swe're going to utilize it in this level of professional football, and that's what I mean.

"And then I know that they are doing our best, their best to hunt and look for the perfect right guys for the system on both defense, offense and also our special teams.  And that's what I mean by that.  We're going to surprise and shock the world."

Q.  James and Isaac, as a follow up to the previous question about coming here, what specifically about Chip were you guys able to find out going through the process?  What sold you on Philadelphia that's coming off a four win season?

JAMES CASEY:  "For me personally, what sold me is just looking at his past and everything that he's done at the college level in his career.  Obviously what he's done speaks for itself.  And then what he's going to bring to the Eagles, I thought it's really exciting, and I know that the team didn't have the greatestthey didn't have what they wanted to do last year, but I know there's a lot of great players when you look at the roster.

"I know DeMeco Ryans from the Texans, he's the only kind of guy that I know on the team, but you can look and see there's a lot of really good players on the team, there's a lot of talent, and I know it's a great city, too.  That was part of it, too, coming here it's a great city.  I know they have a huge fan base and they're really die hard fans and that's going to be fun to play for fans like that.  They're so excited about their team and wanting you to win, and it's going to make it that much better if we go out there and perform and play well and win football games.

"That was the main thing, that I thought it was best case for me to come here and to get an opportunity to see my full potential as a player because as a player you know you work hard but you want to give yourself a chance to see what you really can do and give yourself the best opportunity to succeed, and I think this is it for the team and for myself."

Q.  Chip, how does having James here impact Brent Celek and how you use both?  Do you expect both will be on the field a lot at the same time?  And also with the guys that you guys have signed, did you do a lot of film watching on them before you went out and signed them?  Did you co team with Howie on picking the guys you wanted to be in here?

CHIP KELLY:  "Yeah, the first part, we're definitely going to use both him and Brent in the game at the same time.  I think there's a lot of that going on in the league right now.  You just look up the road at the Patriots using Gronkowski and Hernandez at the same time.  I think the mismatches that they create sometimes, they're too athletic for linebackers and they're too big for defensive backs, and it's big man's game, and when you can get big, athletic guys that can run, it's our job as a coaching staff to put them in position to make plays.

"The fact that James is so versatile and has lined up at so many different spots, I think that really just added to what he can bring to the group.

"And then for the question about personnel, we looked at everybody, our staff, the scouting department, Howie's group did an unbelievable job of kind of teeing it up and making it easy for us.  These are the guys that we really think kind of fit, and then they pared the list down and we give them our input, but it was a real collaborative effort.  And when you put this together, and I think this game itself is the quintessential team game, and yet you have to be a team in everything you do, and we were a team in the selection of these free agents, and we'll continue to be a team in who we put on the field and how we play on Sundays.

"But I don't think any one person can be the guy that does it all because there's just too much for you to do and there's too many decisions to make.  With Howie and Tom Gamble and the rest of the scouts that we have plus our coaching staff in here, we've been in here seven days a week since I took this job and grinding out, really attacking free agency, and then after this ends for us, after that what we learned at the combine and really delving into the draft.

"But this whole process is a collaborative effort, and I think that's what's going to make us a special group is that everybodyno one really cares who gets the credit.  The bottom line is do we win and lose and we'll be judged on that on Sundays.  But when you get a bunch of guys that don't have any egos and they can put them at the door and say, how do we come together as a group and build this thing the right way, I think we're on the right track for that right now."

Q.  Coach Kelly, you talked so much about winning when you come here, you come here, lots of changes, of course, but to hear Isaac say we're going to shock the world, meaning we're going to win it all here, what does that mean to you, and you hear another player just coming here looking at the roster knowing they can win with this roster?

CHIP KELLY:  "I think it's evident when you watch Isaac play on tape the passion that he has for this game, and that's why we want him to be part of our organization, and if you don't plan on coming in here and winning then we're not going talk to you.  So the statements that he makes is exactly how everybody in this football program feels and what it's all about.

"But we also know that it's not about talk because what you say in March and what you say in April doesn't really have anything to do with what you do on Sundays if that's all you do is talk, and the one thing I do know about Isaac and I do know about James is they both have unbelievable work ethics, and that's the key for us is to get a bunch of guys that aren't afraid to get down and dirty and go to work.  We're in a blue collar town, we've 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 next January and figure out if it was good enough."

Q.  Howie, these signings came so quick last night, five in a span of an hour, I'm sure it wasn't that easy to get it done that quickly.  Can you take us through the process of what it was like and how much of the groundwork was laid during the 72 hour window that you had over the weekend?

HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "Well, this is new territory for us, the teams and the agents, so getting through that 72 hours we didn't really know what was going to go on.  I think what you saw after 4:00 yesterday was people realized that free agency is a week later than it normally is, you've got the owners' meetings coming up, which normally starts the transition to the draft, and people want to figure it out quickly, so that's why there's so much action quickly.  You were able to have some conversations with agents during the three day period, but it really kicked into gear once that 4:00 started, and we were finding people that we had really targeted and the guys had looked at us as possible fits as we went through this three-day window."

Q.  Howie, you obviously had a plan of attack here.  There were a lot of big names, big contracts given out on the first day.  Would you have signed some of these players that drew big contracts if you wanted them, or was the plan going in that you weren't going to spend that much money, that you wanted to get mid level type of free agents?

HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "Well, we don't consider these guys mid-level, we consider them ..."

Q.  In terms of money, though.

HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "We had targeted specific guys, and we were looking for what was best for our organization, for our football team, and we had a plan.  When we went into free agency, these were the guys we targeted, we went aggressively after them, we recruited them, and we're excited to have them."

Q.  Did you perhaps learn something from two years ago when you did spend a lot of money in free agency as to how you would manage this free agency period?

HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "Certainly you want to go in with an open mind in every free agent period, every draft period, but you've got to learn from the things that you've done and people around the league have done, and for us this is what we felt was right for our team at this particular time, and we're extremely excited to have the people that we've added."

Q.  Howie, Chip talked about a little bit ago, but three of the five guys come from programs that have had a lot of success in recent years, and as you continue through the free agency process into the draft, how imperative is it to somewhat get a cleansing of the culture in the locker room and to revitalize the culture in the locker room from what it was the last couple years?

HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "We think it's important to get the right people in here and the right fits both from a schematic perspective and also from a culture perspective and it starts with these two guys.  You're talking about guys with unbelievable stories, have overcome adversity, and when you watch them play it's just fun to watch.  Getting those kind of guys in here, it'll elevate everyone's play in the room, on the field, and so that is very important when you talk about it.

"And also having some background with these guys, having some history with them, knowing them, people who have been with them and places they have been or knowing some people who have been with them, that's important.  It takes some of the guessing out of free agency."

Q.  Howie and Chip, you worked out Geno Smith earlier this year, you brought in Matt Scott for a visit.  Do you expect to probably draft a quarterback at some point in this draft?

CHIP KELLY:  "You know, I don't know.  I know the one thing about it, as I've been here since January 16th, is that we're going to look at everybody and anybody that can help us win football games.  If it takes us getting on a plane to go watch a guy work out or bring someone in, they're not going to be the last two guys that we go out of here to go see or bring in here to see.  Just because it's quarterbacks, I think people get enamored with that.  I don't know if it's because of what we do offensively or because we've signed a couple guys.  But our job is to win on Sundays, and we're going to look at anybody and everybody to see if we can win games.  Does that mean we're going to draft a quarterback in the draft?  I don't know."

Q.  Howie, you signed these five guys last night, you had another guy in today and everything.  What more do you see yourselves doing as far as free agency is concerned?  What kind of needs do you hope to address in free agency?

HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "I don't think it's necessarily needs, I think it's value for us, and looking over the list and doing the homework on the guys prior to the free agency period and making sure that we're bringing the right kind of guys in.  There's an opportunity to get that kind of guy that fits us both from a culture and a scheme perspective, then we're going to look at that option and just see if it fits."

Q.  Howie, you mentioned last week that free agency is coming at a time when you've got the league meetings coming up and you figured that would still befree agency would still be very much in play during that period.  You've had such a rush of signings, is that still the case?  Do you think free agency will still be a dominant thing in the meetings, or have a lot of the guys been signed, a lot of the top guys been signed?

HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "I think the unusual part of free agency this year is normally you have the first round of players, then you have middle market and then you have guys that are kind of looking for the right fit and the right situation.  What's happening now is agents want to do deals and make sure that they place their guys.  You have free agency a week later and people are going to turn their focus over to the draft.

"I think you'll see another flurry of activity in the next 48 hours, 72 hours, before people get to the league meetings, and it may be a little quieter than maybe we talked about a week or two ago."

Q.  Howie, specifically with Isaac, what kind of insight was Tom Gamble able to give you into what kind of player he is?

HOWIE ROSEMAN:  "Oh, great insight.  Talk about being with a guy every day, that's the things that we look for because when you get free agents sometimes the unknown is how is it going to be when you're with them.  You can watch the tape, you can have the background, but you haven't lived with them.  All the things that we thought we knew were confirmed with Tom being here."

Q.  It's an interesting set of circumstances where you came from college to the pros and you haven't had a whole lot of time to talk football with the players that are already on the roster and yet you have to go out in free agency and sign players.  How does that kind of affect your approach in free agency?

CHIP KELLY:  "I mean, it is what it is.  Those are the rules, so I think a lot of people can complain about them but we don't look at it that way.  It gave us a lot of time, to be honest, as a staff, since we couldn't sit down with our current players to talk about what we're going to do offensively and defensively to really spend a lot of time on film and from an evaluation standpoint.  It's just how do you use your time and use it wisely, and I thought our staff did a great job.  It was really neat to watch our staff evaluate film and then the personnel department evaluate film and see how close we were in understanding what we want in a football player, and these two guys are prime examples of it."

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