When Phil Emery discussed firing Lovie Smith at a press conference in January, he also devoted considerable time talking about how he uses statistics to evaluate players and coaches. Advanced statistics were clearly going to have a role in how the Bears worked in the post-Lovie Smith era. Now, Emery has taken this idea a step farther by hiring Mitchell Tanney to become the Bears' director of analytics.
Tanney previously worked with STATS LLC, a company that provides statistical analysis for sports. According to the Bears' press release:
Tanney will help advance the team’s analytical capabilities by developing additional techniques to identify, extract and analyze data to support decisions throughout the football operations department. His two primary research areas to enhance the Bears analytical capacities will be in player evaluation concepts and game situation principles.
What does that mean?
He'll add another layer of player evaluation. For example, basic statistics don't have metrics to judge an offensive lineman. Considering Chicago's issues with the offensive line, they need every tool possible to judge what is working and what isn't. The numbers STATS used look at how linemen allow sacks or hurries on the quarterback, or how they open running lanes for running backs.
With a role in game situations, Tanney will evaluate how the Bears perform in certain situations. If he sees they're only successful running on third-and-two 29 percent of the time, he can share that information with the coaching staff. Marc Trestman can use it when calling plays.
Tanney was a quarterback in college and in the Arena League, and also has served as coach. He knows numbers, but he also knows football. A great sign is that the Bears are one of the few teams who are not just using advanced statistics, but also have devoted a staff member to them. When is the last time you remember the Bears being on the cutting edge of anything?