The Chicago Bears have made an interesting hire, bringing in Mitchell Tanney as the club's "director of analytics," according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. General manager Phil Emery has made his interest in advanced statistics known this offseason — and given that Tanney previously worked at STATS LLC, the hire lines up with his statements.
According to Biggs, Tanney is set to help out with player evaluation and "game situation principles." It's likely his involvement will be based purely on what he sees on the stat sheet, as he's clearly the most qualified to interpret said stats.
Emery had talked about both STATS and the website Pro Football Focus when talking about the team's poor pass blocking last season. Pro Football Focus, in particular, has been at the forefront of individual offensive linemen stats in recent years, at least as far as publicly available information is concerned.
Tanney was the product manager of STATS LLC's ICE platform, a system that aligns a team's analytical data and player records to scouting video. He also has experience as a player, as a former Arena League quarterback and Division III National Player of the Year runner-up at Monmouth College.
As noted by Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, the Bears aren't the only team going in this direction. Tony Khan heads the Jacksonville Jaguars' analytics department, and Buffalo Bills president Russ Brandon plans to build a "robust" analytics department for that franchise.