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

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

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]

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

What is there to say about the Philadelphia Phillies?

In doing my usual postgame perusal of the Internet after their 7-2 loss on Wednesday night, I visited Phillies.com to see what kind of "highlights" they could have possibly posted from another crushing defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.

Thankfully, the first thing that caught my eye was a video titled, "Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby."

It was not Larry Andersen in the Phanatic's arms. Nor me.

And that's the Phillies season in a nutshell.

"You gotta question the parenting skills here," John Kruk said on the telecast. And he's right! What kind of parent would raise their kid to be a Philly sports fan?!?

The Phillies now have the worst record in all of baseball. They're 4-20 in their last 24 games. It's their worst start to a season since 1960.

Even the Phanatic doesn't have enough popcorn to mask all the pain.

If you want to read about the upbeat approach Pete Mackanin is taking, go give this a gander.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen," Mackanin told reporters. "I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

That makes one of us.

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.