With a new season brings new expectations. Some will fade into the mist, others will continue to stroll down mediocrity lane, and others will take the next leap into the level of stardom.
2011 in review: Eli becomes "Elite"; Brees breaks Dan Marino's 1984 passing yards record with 5,087; Cam Newton hushes all doubters with a stellar rookie season.
So where does Rivers sit in comparison to his competition in 2012?
Although Rivers had one of the better seasons of his career, gaining 27 touchdowns, 4,624 yards and a Pro Bowl bid, it was the element of inconsistency that damaged his goods. In comparison to the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Rivers tossed an additional seven interceptions for a grand total of 20, the most of his career.
Rivers' 2011 campaign could best be summed up by trying to force the situation into tight windows of opportunity that had already passed and thus tipped passes turned picks. However, one play stole the show: The infamous fumbled snap in Kansas City could sharply ignite significant reasoning for missing out on a playoff berth.
For lack of a better term, he was just in a muddle. Could the lockout have affected his traditional offseason approach? Did the "Lightning Bug's" absence cut into his underneath release options? I'm going to take the high road, and select the factor of Vincent Jackson and his off-the-field issues.
From a visual standpoint, 2012 looks a lot different than 2011. Primarily because of the damaging weight of Jackson's contract-hungry head off of Rivers' shoulders. Although I am devastated by the loss of one of the Chargers' big-time players, Jackson was more of a cancer.
Like Kobe and Shaq, it was evident that the two power-hungry stars could not be on the field of play at the same time.
Now, Rivers will be able to possess sole leadership of the squad and reestablish himself as one of the elite quarterbacks in the league—despite not owning any bling to his name.
He may be without his top receiver in V-Jax and his hybrid bowling ball in Mike Tolbert, but we saw in 2010 that Rivers can turn anyone with a pair of hands into a star wideout. Despite Jackson's contract scuffles of 2010, Rivers carried on and displayed his abilities to spray the ball to whomever and whenever, connecting with 17 different targets.
It seems like we say this every season, but the Chargers' 2012 roster echos talent and speed—a style of speed with which Rivers hasn't been accompanied in a few years. Rivers' 2012 arsenal consists of an array of speed, sure hands and deep threats. The acquisitions landed will propel Rivers back to that elite status we all know, and it will land him in the thick of the MVP conversation.
Returning: Antonio Gates, Vincent Brown, Malcom Floyd, Randy McMichael, Ryan Mathews
Acquisitions: Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, Roscoe Parrish, Michael Spurlock, Donte Rosario, Le'Ron McClain
The addition of speed in exchange for height will be the X-factor this season. Without the physicality of Jackson at Rivers' disposal, defenders will target the big men, Floyd and Gates.
Rivers has a unique arsenal of talent in this year's squad, and with an entire offseason to mesh with each individual, Rivers will return to form this year and hoist the celebrated MVP award high in the air.
If it wasn't for Rivers taking the hit for last season's blunders, neither Norv nor A.J. would have jobs right now. And after missing out the last two seasons at a playoff berth, Rivers knows that in 2012, he will be playing for people's jobs, which I think will make him more poised regarding his decisions in the pocket.
A resurgence is about to take place in San Diego, and we are all bearing witness.
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