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John Elway follows through on pledge, hires Broncos' first director of analytics

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – As the 2014 season drew to a close, Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway said the team was poised to dig into the idea of analytics -- the use of advanced statistics -- as part of its personnel evaluations, and was ready to do it sooner rather than later.

At the time, Elway leaned back in the chair behind his desk and said; “I have a stack of resumes, and it gets bigger all the time, of people who want the job."

On Friday, the Broncos announced who got the job as Mitch Tanney was hired as the franchise's first director of football analytics. Tanney, who worked with the Chicago Bears for the past two years, has also worked for Stats LLC as he managed that company’s system that paired a player’s analytical data and player records to the game video.

Tanney is a former Monmouth College quarterback who was the runner-up for the Division III Player of the Year in 2005. He holds degrees in mathematics and Spanish to with an MBA from the University of Iowa.

Elway, with an economics degree from Stanford, said this past season that, “I’m a numbers guy; I know the power they have. ... I want to know what they can do for us."

The Broncos have used a wide array of on-field statistics – down-and-distance, situational performance, etc., in the past. Tony Lazarro, the Broncos’ director of football information systems, has overseen that effort. Tanney’s hiring shows the team’s intention to step up the use of advanced metrics in its evaluation of football personnel, both in pro personnel and in college scouting.

“We want to try to get our arms around it, find out everything we think we can do with it," Elway said just before the end of the regular season. “I’m curious about it; I want to look at it. We haven’t used as much of it to this point, but I certainly want to continue to explore it."

Elway, whose father Jack was a longtime college coach and an NFL personnel man, has consistently said he believes in the traditional forms of “eyes-on" scouting. He also has said he wants to embrace new ways of thinking.

“I want to do things that help us succeed and achieve the goals we want to achieve, which is compete for and win world championships," Elway said. “You have to stay open-minded, have to be ready to do things that improve what you do and your ability to find the best players to be Denver Broncos."