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Howie Roseman Quotes: Wharton People Analytics Conference 2018

Revealing how the Eagles use analytics & why Wentz was a worthy outlier

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Back in March, Philadelphia Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman spoke at the Wharton People Analytics Conference. He discussed a range of topics, including how the Eagles leverage analytics, utilize sports science, and why they drafted Carson Wentz when the analytics scared off the Cleveland Browns. Here are some key quotes from the Conference, you can view the entire session here.

On celebrating the Super Bowl

“I’ll tell you the hardest part… we were six weeks behind on free agency and the draft and so we had this whole perspective of like, we’re going to win a world championship and it’s gonna be the best thing we ever did and we’re not gonna care anymore about anything else once we win. And what I found is that you just want more and more and more.”

On continuing success…

“I think you have to keep, you have to keep learning… if you feel like ‘hey I have the secret sauce and I’m just gonna sprinkle it on and I’m gonna be great again’, you’re gonna get your butt kicked. From our perspective, we know we have to change the chemistry, we have to create competition, we have to make everyone feel the same kinda urgency we had.

So how do you that? You get more people who have that urge, who have that underdog kinda feeling that we had, who feel like they’ve been kicked to the side, who have this need to win, and what we feel will happen is when you bring a bunch of competitive people with inherently competitive people who maybe just are going through the motions a little bit for a while, and all the sudden they have a competitive moment and you bring out those competitive juices. Now, will it work? I have no idea? But we’re gonna try.”

On holding on to past success…

“It’s hard to separate the emotion, right? I mean that’s why we have analytics, that’s why we have objective and subjective. And it’s hard to let people go who’ve helped lead you to great things, who’ve done things for your organization, that’s hard. And it almost seems counterintuitive and certainly unemotional. So I think that that’s one of the things that we feel is important, is to separate that, and not go forward just based on past performance, but based on future performance.”

Decision-making with Jeffrey Lurie…

“For him, when we talk about objective and subjective, if we see someone on tape that’s extremely talented but then he gets to the [NFL Combine] and he’s got workouts that historically put him in the lower 5% of anyone that’s played in the league, he’s gonna go, ‘we’re betting 95% against the odds, how does that make any sense?’

So, it gets to the point where you don’t even come to him with that information because you know what the answer is gonna be… He supports this decision-making where there are parallel paths, where there’s scouting, you know traditional scouting, and advanced analytical models. And then what he wants us to do is gather all that information and make the decisions.”

Changing Lurie’s mind…

“Over the last two years we signed a free agent and when we started the process with this free agent and when over his age and his background, you know Jeffrey is like, ‘this doesn’t make a lotta sense, why are we’re doing that?’ And I said, ‘here’s what I think from an analytical perspective, here’s what we think from a value/cap/cash perspective, and here’s our scouting perspective, let me send you all the information, let’s get back on the phone’… And he got back on the phone and said, ‘not only am I in favor of this but this seems like a great value.’”

On “spatial analytics” and “player tracking”…

“When we have the player tracking at the beginning of the season and can track it through the course of the season, we can be proactive to understand how their bodies are reacting and maybe get them out of harms way before they are injured. This is a big deal for us.”

On “sports science”…

“It’s the integration of strength and conditioning and your medical and training staff… We had a player this year we drafted in the 2nd round who basically didn’t play all year, played a little in the last game and what you’re trying to do with these sports scientists are basically tracking this player and utilizing all the data and all the information that they have to figure out where they are from a performance standpoint to return-to-play protocol.

We use this for everything that we do. Before we sign a free agent we’ll have our sports scientists look at how the gait of the player is to see if there is anything that may give us a heads up on a decline. We’ll have them go to the [NFL Combine] and separately look at guys than our training staff.”

On Wentz checking character boxes…

“We have a Wonderlic test score which the best score is a 45, he got a 42, he was the valedictorian of his high school, he was the captain of his team. He had leadership, he had intangibles, he came from a great family, he had a great ethical and moral compass. And so we were just saying, you know what, this is what we stand for, this is what we believe in.”

On Wentz being an analytical outlier…

“When you talk to the people in Cleveland about the reason they couldn’t get comfortable picking him at 2, it was because there’s no analytical model that shows any sort of history for a player like this… So for us it was definitely a huge gamble with a lot of peoples careers at the forefront of this gamble.”

A major takeaway from this is how integrated analytics has become with the Eagles entire process, but that it’s still only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Roseman’s willingness, despite being an advocate for analytics, to go outside of his comfort zone and take a swing on Wentz speaks to his flexibility as a decision-maker. If the Browns hadn’t been so paralyzed by their own analytics, perhaps they would have made the same gamble. So it goes.

Eagles > Giants

Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Saturday, April 28, 2018