November 15, 2019

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Opinion

A player like Bighill can make a big difference

Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press FILES</p><p>Linebacker Adam Bighill was the CFL's most outstanding defensive player in 2015.</p>

Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press FILES

Linebacker Adam Bighill was the CFL's most outstanding defensive player in 2015.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/5/2018 (542 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/5/2018 (542 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When you sign a player like Adam Bighill, you do a lot more for your defence than simply plug a gaping hole in the second level.

Adam Bighill is a seamless fit for the Blue Bombers' defence, and the football team. For a squad and a town blue-collar and workmanlike in their approach, this is a can’t-miss addition. He has proven to be everything you’d want in the middle of your defence, directing traffic and barking out signals.

When a player of Bighill's calibre walks into a locker room, he's granted instant respect. Not only is Bighill returning from a semi-successful stint in the NFL, where he showed enough to get on the active roster and spend some time on the field, but he is a tenured, all-star player who is relentless.

Coaches talk all the time about pursuing the football, running to the ball and not giving up on plays. Not only will Bighill become one of the biggest-effort guys on the Bombers' roster, but when he does arrive at the football, he brings a level of disruption and violence with him that can produce even more turnovers for a defensive group that thrives off them.

Bighill, like his former brother-in-arms in British Columbia, Solomon Elimimian, is a pure tackling machine. He gets to the football. There are running backs who thrive off the number of touches they get, receivers who need to be targeted 10 times a game, and ballhawks in the secondary who live to defence passes.

Bighill, I daresay, is as obsessive about how he plays the game, and how he makes a difference physically. There are tackles that are his responsibility, and his ability to diagnose a play and come downhill will ensure a number of those are made in the back field.

But his nose for the football, ability to get off of blocks, and his force of will are what separates him from his peers. From the film I’ve seen of him, he does not take plays off, and is as good as they come at making tackles in space, in one-on-one situations. Quite frankly, this is a linebacker you can tell loves his craft.

Another element to this signing are the intangibles Bighill should bring to the locker room. In many cases, a player with this type of resumé could try to ride the crest of his accomplishments. This is sometimes demonstrated with excessive "vet days" during training camp and practices, not giving maximum effort during drills, or simply letting the security of one’s sizeable bonus affect their demeanour. Bighill is one of those players, like a Dressler, who gives maximal effort all the time — regardless of his circumstances — and teammates notice.

When players see a "made it" guy who brings it every day, and is always pushing the envelope, it eliminates their own option of taking their foot off the gas.

For guys on the defensive line, knowing you have this calibre of athlete behind you empowers you and gives you more freedom and confidence.

For the teams that come face-to-face with the Bombers defence this season, there is now another sideline-to-sideline threat. One that's going to make people think hard about the options they have in the middle and heart of this defence.

 

Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears weekly in the Free Press.

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Doug Brown

Doug Brown
Columnist

Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

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