Most pleasant surprise: QB Philip Rivers
Rivers did everything the Chargers asked of him through the 2008 calendar year. He rehabbed vigorously from offseason knee surgery, recovered ahead of schedule, delivered a statistical whale of a season, and led his team to the playoffs for the third straight year. He is about to rake in a ton of cash and he's earned every penny.
Biggest Disappointment: DE Luis Castillo
When Shawne Merriman went down with a season-ending knee injury, the Chargers needed the rest of the defensive front-seven to pick up the slack. Castillo fell far short in that endeavor. He failed to record a sack in 15 of the team's 16 games and had two games where he didn't post a single tackle.
SS Steve Gregory
Gregory signed a four-year contract extension before the season and wasted no time proving it was a wise investment. Gregory earned the first three starts of his career in Weeks 14-16 and finished with career-highs in tackles (36) and pass breakups (four). He is a valuable member of the dime defense and a core contributor on special teams.
Biggest Wasted Opportunity: LB Jyles Tucker
With Merriman out of action, Tucker had an opportunity to prove he is a starting-caliber defender…so much for that thought. Tucker finished with 5.5 sacks but did the bulk of his damage in blowouts when the opponents were forced to play from behind. Of his 5.5 sacks, 3.5 came in games the Chargers won by 17 points or more.
Biggest Glimpse of Greatness: LB Brandon Siler
Siler excelled whenever he stepped foot onto the field. He emerged as one of the team's best special teams players, rivaling even Kassim Osgood, and energized a goal-line defense that came up with numerous key stops over the second half of the season. With the inside linebacker spot next to Stephen Cooper up for grabs, Siler appears primed to take the next step in 2009.
Most Likely to be a Perennial Tease: WR Malcom Floyd
Floyd was sensational from Weeks 6-15, catching 27 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns. However, he ended the season as quietly as he started it, rendered a complete non-factor despite having recovered from a lung injury. Floyd, who will be a restricted free agent, is a deep-ball specialist who lacks completeness and special-teams skills. With youngsters Buster Davis and Legedu Naanee on his heels, his search for steady playing time seems destined to disappoint.
What do you think of the award-winners below? Is there a category or nominee you'd like to add to the list. Click here to talk about it in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.