Bighill wins 2021 Most Outstanding Defensive Player
HAMILTON — Adam Bighill has added some hardware to an already impressive collection on Friday, after he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Over the course of the 2021 season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ defence feasted on offences and was a nightmare to go up against. While players like 2019 award winner Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat rained down pressure on offensive lineman, Bighill was at the centre of it all.
Stuffing the run and defending the pass, Bighill was the anchor for the league-best defence, which led the league in offensive points allowed (12.9 per game), offensive touchdowns (15), net offence (281.3), second-down efficiency (40.3 per cent), turnovers forced (38) and opponent passing efficiency rating (71.3). The Bombers were particularly stingy against the pass, allowing just 216.4 passing yards per game, the lowest in a season since Edmonton allowed 206.7 yards per game in 2014 and the second-lowest in the last 20 seasons and insisted it was a team award.
“With what our defence has done this year collectively as a group, the stats speak for themselves and that’s definitely more than one person,” Bighill said. “I’m part of the collective group – could have been a couple of other guys that were definitely worthy and obviously I’m humbled to be the one chosen.”
As for his contributions, Bighill’s 80 defensive plays tied him for 10th in the CFL and along the way, he led the Blue Bombers with 70 tackles, recorded a pair of sacks and interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown.
“There was a lot I wanted to prove this year,” said Bighill. “Coming off not having a season and people in the football world starting to say, ‘he’s getting older.’ For me, I feel the youngest I’ve felt in a long time. I can keep doing this for, I don’t know, four, five more years.”
As a team, Winnipeg set a modern benchmark by allowing just 13.4 points per game, the lowest since 1970 when Calgary allowed 13.1 and Saskatchewan allowed 12.9. The Bombers’ output is the ninth-lowest in CFL history.
“It’s the most fun I’ve had playing professional football,” Bighill said on the 2021 season. “We’ve had special groups every single year and our locker room has always been so so tight. That’s what makes it fun, the memories you create with the guys that you play with.”
Winnipeg built upon their reputation further through their play in the fourth quarter, where they allowed just 30 points the entire season.
Bighill received 42 first-place votes.
Bighill bested Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ linebacker and East Division All-Star, Simoni Lawrence for the award. Lawrence, who was the East Division nominee last season against Winnipeg Blue Bomber Willie Jefferson, finished the season with 73 tackles and four sacks.