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Mitchell Tanney hired as Bears' director of analytics

Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery sent notice around the league that he wasn't afraid to go bold or unconventional with his hiring of coach Marc Trestman in January.

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The move was no surprise to anyone who caught the Bears' season-ending press conference two weeks prior. In explaining his approach to rebuilding a beleaguered offensive line, Emery revealed that he had consulted analytics services such as STATS Inc. and Pro Football Focus in a "very 'Moneyball' way, crunching the numbers."

Emery is expanding that reliance on advanced football statistics, announcing the hiring of Mitchell Tanney as director analytics.

The Bears front office is certainly not alone in consulting metrics. Shad Khan's son, Tony, spearheads theJacksonville Jaguars' analytics department. Buffalo Bills president Russ Brandon has plans to build a "robust" analytics department.

What's particularly interesting about Tanney is his background as a player. He was a former Arena League quarterback and Division III National Player of the Year runner-up at Monmouth College.

Although the "Moneyball" craze has continued to take analytics mainstream, stats-crunchers have long carried a reputation for hubris and intransigence in the front offices of the NFL and MLB. Tanney's experience on the gridiron figures to be a considerable asset in bridging the gap between analytics and scouting.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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