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Alec Halaby and the Rise of Analytics in the Eagles’ Front Office

Aug 1, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

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As analytics become increasingly mainstream in professional sports, it should come as no surprise the Eagles have embraced the movement. Everything about the franchise these days speaks to an open-minded approach toward the game, from something as simple as strength and conditioning programs to the complexities of offensive and defensive schemes.

The shift toward analytics is not something that starts with Chip Kelly like many changes however. That’s where Alec Halaby comes in. As special assistant to general manager Howie Roseman, Halaby has been incorporating analytics in his approach to player evaluation since his first stint with the organization as an intern in 2007. As a result, the 26-year-old Harvard grad is quickly climbing the ladder in the Birds’ front office.

According to Philly Mag’s Sheil Kapadia, who was among the reporters to chat with Eagles scouts on Wednesday, he has the ear of the person who matters most.

Like most NFL teams, the Eagles are reluctant to cite specific examples of how they use analytics. But Roseman referred to Halaby as a “safeguard” of sorts. If Roseman sees a player he likes on tape and is giving serious consideration to drafting or signing him, he’ll often call on Halaby for a different method of evaluation.

And Halaby will sometimes come back with answers Roseman doesn’t want to hear.

“He’ll come back with the research and I’ll be disappointed. I’ll go, ‘I really like this guy.’ I’ll try to convince him, and he’ll say, ‘You can do whatever you want obviously, but the chances are we’re playing very highly against the odds.’ I’ll take 24 hours and I’ll realize that’s the right decision and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

“Alec’s taken on a bigger role here in the last couple years and become a bigger voice,” Roseman said. “Part of that is because [we're] going back and looking at his track record.

Halaby does get into some details about what he does for Roseman and the Eagles, but Sheil says the team is guarded about specific instances where analytics were helpful. One point I thought was interesting was a sort of old-school guy like Andy Reid was actually on board with Halaby’s approach as well.

While Halaby’s role on the team is not quite as unique or mysterious as that of sports science coordinator Shaun Huls, it’s certainly interesting to hear how new data and statistics are being applied in Philadelphia. Check out the full read over at Birds 24/7.

>> Meet Alec Halaby, Roseman’s Analytics ‘Safeguard’ [Philly Mag]

  1. sfsu - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    Meanwhile, the Phillies have a manager who says “we don’t teach walks” and a GM who openly mocks sabermetrics.

    Reply
    • willh888 - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:00 PM

      Which GM openly celebrates sabermetrics, and lay out his resume right here, next comment

      Reply
      • sfsu - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        Is this English?

      • willh888 - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

        Sabermetrics.
        GM.
        Name him.
        Simple.

      • sfsu - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:32 AM

        Are you trying to get me to say Billy Beane so you can sentence-fragment your way to a terrible argument of “But look at all the World Series the A’s have won!!!”

        Because if you are, I’ll counter that playoff performance is highly random and it is no way to judge the effectiveness of a GM. And then I’ll say, even IF playoffs were the only gauge of a GM’s talent, then just look at the Red Sox, who won 2 World Series in the 4 years after they became the first MLB team to hire Bill James, who basically invented sabermetrics.

        Then you’ll say, “but the Red Sox have all that money”, then I’ll say, “but the A’s dont, yet their GM has consistently won more games per dollar spent in the last 2 decades, by far, and its actually ridiculous that people dont understand how good Billy Beane is. Or, they do realize how good he is, but they would rather bury their heads in the sand than grasp the fact that batting average and RBIs are largely irrelevant ”

        And if you’re NOT trying to get me to say Billy Beane, and your condescending demand to name a GM who would DARE use sabermetrics in baseball was actually legitimate, then, hey man, go read Fangraphs for an hour. It will change your life.

      • willh888 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:24 AM

        Playoffs are only random because the point doesn’t stroke your hilarious ego. His teams are historically bad in the postseason, but you’ll probably blame the coach or somethin’

        Regular season I guess is the real deal.. and Mr Cool Stats has one winning season in the last seven. Haha. If that was RAJ, you’d say what? What are these stats doing to help Billy Beane? For the money? That’s the owners goal in Oakland.. one winning season since Rod Barajas caught for the Phillies? That’s four more questions for you to sarcastically avoid.

      • Nick - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:30 AM

        Theo Epstein.

        He won a couple world series with Boston.

        You loose.

      • Grammar Police - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        “lose”

    • nahroots - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      Yawn. Lazy butt hurt fan is lazy. Let’s blame RAJ for everything.

      Or did we already forget RAJ complimented a core offense with an elite pitching staff to make them back-to-back-to-back heavy weight contenders? But butt hurt fan is butt hurt b/c the team couldn’t grab one more title. So he’ll just keep pounding the “RAJ SUX FIRE RAJ WORST GM LOLSABERMETRICS” drum over and over.

      Reply

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