Chicago Bears the latest to join the NFL's statistical revolution
Say this for the Chicago Bears: they're not afraid to look outside the box.
The only NFL team to pluck its head coach out of the Canadian Football League (who also happened to have two decades of NFL experience) has now joined another small-but-growing club with the hiring of Mitchell Tanney as the team's director of analytics. The move is a natural one for general manager Phil Emery, who consulted STATS and Pro Football Focus for different ways to analyze the stat sheet.
Tanney played quarterback at Monmouth and in various minor leagues before going on to head STATS LLC's football division. Specifically, Tanney was responsible for the company's ICE platform, which aligned analytics and player data to video. In Chicago, Tanney will work with the Bears' coaches and decision-makers on "player evaluation concepts and situation principles," according to the team's press release.
Much like the Oakland Athletics spearheaded baseball's statistical revolution as a means of playing catch-up to their competition, the Bears join the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars as the only NFL franchises that have waded into the analytics waters, according to NFL.com's Chris Wesseling. Not coincidentally, Tanney joins the Bears after a house-cleaning of sorts after Chicago's fifth playoff-less season in six years. The Jaguars last made the playoffs in 2007, and the Bills are working on busting a playoff drought that dates back to 1999. We hope you're noticing a trend here.
As we said back in January, analytics is a slow-building movement in football, but every team will have an analytics department before sooner rather than later.