A damning new bombshell report from The Athletic has people rethinking the sanity of the Philadelphia Eagles organization. And the way team owner Jeffrey Lurie has been stamping his meddlesome imprint on it.
Three plugged-in reporters — Bo Wulf, Zach Berman, Sheil Kapadia — teamed up for a deep dive on the inner workings. They confirmed much of what The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane turned up in his controversial profile on general manager Howie Roseman. However, the emergence of a new character in this Greek tragedy — Harvard graduate Alec Halaby — threatened to steal the show.
Shrewdly buried in the press release on the Eagles’ front office changes is the addition of another Quantitative Analyst. Cloak and dagger on the analytics side of Football Ops continues, but it looks to me like four full-time people underneath Alec Halaby.
— Bo Wulf (@Bo_Wulf) June 13, 2019
Halaby’s official title is Eagles’ vice president of football operations and strategy, a post he was appointed to in May 2016 after serving as Roseman’s special assistant. Interestingly, his first job now belongs to Connor Barwin. Halaby heads up the team’s analytics department but has a knack for getting too involved in football decisions, per The Athletic. Halaby’s “influence” has gone unchecked since he attended Harvard with Lurie’s son, Julian, and opinions inside the building on him vary from “interloper” to “brilliant.” He was allowed to undermine key scouts and coaches, including Doug Pederson who once berated Halaby in public.
The blurriness of Halaby’s influence on the final decision-makers created rifts throughout the organization and contributed to the iciness between departments. One source described the analytics team as a “clandestine, Black Ops department that doesn’t answer to anybody except the owner,” even though Halaby officially reports to Roseman.
During the 2017 season, Halaby and Pederson’s relationship soured to the point where Pederson berated Halaby within earshot of the rest of the office, according to sources. In the opinion of some members of the coaching staff, Halaby was not to be trusted.
In only three years, Philadelphia went from Super Bowl glory to complete demise.
Paranoia. Mismanagement. Office politics.
Those inside the organization detail the downfall: What happened to the Eagles?
📚 https://t.co/ikgtfSeRIQ pic.twitter.com/XYwOGA4gHn
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) April 12, 2021
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Tuesday Meetings Turned Sour for Pederson
Another big takeaway from The Athletic report was Lurie’s insistence on meeting with Pederson every Tuesday. He and Roseman would grill the head coach for hours and “treated him like a baby,” according to the report — and criticized his every waking decision. Winning by three wasn’t good enough. And don’t even think about running the ball too much.
[Pederson] was ridiculed and criticized for every decision,” a source told The Athletic. If you won by three, it wasn’t enough. If you lost on a last-second field goal, you’re the worst coach in history.
The fact that Doug had the success he did with all the s— going on in the building, sometimes I look at our Super Bowl rings, and I’m like, ‘Holy cow, I don’t know how we did it.’
Doug Pederson ‘ridiculed and criticized’ by Eagles front office, ‘treated like a baby,’ per report https://t.co/mefHbwg4c1 pic.twitter.com/MNyG43lRT8
— Sporting News NFL (@sn_nfl) April 12, 2021
These new allegations lay more credence to the notion that Pederson decided to quit. There has been no clear-cut resolution on whether the Super Bowl winner turned in his resignation on Jan. 11 or if Lurie fired him. What we do know is that these Tuesday inquisitions never happened during the 14 seasons that Andy Reid served as Eagles head coach.
Lurie Loves NFL Draft, Influences Decisions
There is also mounting evidence that Lurie sticks his nose into the draft process, arguably way too much than he should. He has been blamed for exerting influence on the J.J. Arcega-Whiteside pick in 2019 and for helping sway the tide for Jalen Reagor in 2020.
According to The Athletic, Lurie is a “draftaholic” who spends hours holed up in his Beverly Hills home watching college tape prior to the draft. He devours everything from the Japan Bowl to the Senior Bowl.
According to multiple sources, Lurie devours tape of college prospects and is an “active participant” in the pre-draft process. Those who have experienced that process aknowledge its murkiness. Often, there’s no explanation given when the team strays from an established draft board. Sometimes, as with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s selection in 2019, Lurie puts his thumb on the scale when the team was prepared to make another selection (in that case, Ohio State’s Parris Campbell).
Ex Eagles Scout Daniel Jeremiah
“Mr Lurie was always involved”
“It’s a little naïve to think this is all new”
“He wanted to know what we were thinking and maybe challenge someone on an opinion. Which I thought was a good thing”
🎧Eagles draft podcast🔽https://t.co/DyiRavBQKm pic.twitter.com/AraZ2ncYRY
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 13, 2021