The Tennessee Titans have not been big on analytics in the past. In fact, the Titans were the last team in the NFL to hire someone specifically for that purpose, which they did in 2021.
Now, this is not to say analytics are the end-all, be-all of evaluating, but they are a tool that should be considered in the process of making a decision, whether that be on a player or in a specific situation in a game.
If you were hoping for the Titans to consider analytics more, new general manager Ran Carthon is your guy. During his introductory press conference on Friday, Carthon explained his take on the subject.
“We’ve used analytics a lot with the 49ers,” Carthon said, per John Glennon of Sports Illustrated. “I think it definitely plays a part. We trust our eyes as scouts, but sometimes the data can drive you to a decision and help you see it from a different vantage point. So I think there’s a place in our game for it.
“I think in the (early years) of analytics, it was sort of pitting analytics and the scouting department against one another. And a lot of things that we did in scouting was (already) essentially analytics. It just didn’t have the title. So it has a part in our game, and we’re going to use every tool here to help us build a championship roster.”
The 41-year-old first-time general manager went on to share an example of how using analytics has helped him and his former team in the past, which involved Demetrius Washington, who was the Niners’ manager of football research and development.
“He’s like, `I’m not walking in there with [head coach] Kyle [Shanhan] with just this paper to say that (about Mitchell),’” Carthon said. “’Can you watch this guy and see if you can confirm what the tape saw?’ And I watched the tape, that was my first exposure to the player, and I agreed with him, and then that player ended up being Elijah Mitchell.”
From there, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans was on board with picking Mitchell, also, even at the expense of San Fran adding a linebacker instead.
“[Ryans] called Johnny Holland, our linebackers coach, and was like, ‘Coach, this running back is better than the linebacker we’re going to pick,’” Carthon said. “And so we shifted from taking a linebacker and took Elijah. It just kind of shows to the collaboration of how that whole operation works.”
Of course, analytics and/or film couldn’t predict Mitchell’s injury issues (if so, the Titans would be all in on them after their injury issues the past few years) but when on the field he has been an impressive back for the Niners.
Carthon’s take on analytics is the right one. He’s going to be using it as a tool to help make decisions and won’t be relying on it entirely. That’s the right balance to have, because numbers can only tell you so much.