Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 9/11/12
ST. LOUIS Danny Amendola is serious. Danny Amendola is committed. Danny Amendola is disappointed. Danny Amendola wants to improve. Danny Amendola doesnt believe in moral victories. No, we lost, said the St. Louis Rams wide receiver, a day after a 27-23 defeat to the Detroit Lions in Week 1. Thats all that counts. Danny Amendolas not the only one. Walk around Rams Park, and mention of a moral victory after St. Louis pushed a returning playoff team to the final seconds at Ford Field is treated like a moldy loaf of Wonder Bread. No one will touch it. No one is satisfied with it. No one wants to swallow it again. How do you look at the result? No moral victories, guard Harvey Dahl said. Its a game that we can win. Were going to win those games in the future. Is anyone pleased with how you led late? Not at all, wide receiver Brandon Gibson said. We play to win the game. People may not (have expected the Rams to stay close), but you cant worry about what people say. Is there a positive feel despite the loss? Im getting texts and emails from everybody across the country saying, Great job, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. Well, what do you mean great job? We lost by four points. So it is with the Rams new era. Players never like to admit low hopes from the start. They never like to admit that projections for a franchise that entered the year 15-65 over the last five seasons might be a bit, well, reserved. But making Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (three interceptions) look like Matthew McConaughey behind center at times would have caused a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Steve Spagnuolos final campaign. That is, if the former coach hadnt lost the scissors first. This was different Sunday. This was unexpected. This was fun. There was edge from cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins (both snagged picks). There was emotion from Fisher, who jogged on the sideline looking limber enough to slip on his No. 24 Chicago Bears jersey. There was drama late, even if it meant the Rams trailed for the first time in the second half with 10 seconds left. Same old St. Louis? Same result, sure. But this showing had far fewer warts than last year. We did some good things, Amendola said. But at the same time, we didnt win the game. We need to make plays when its time to be made. Thats going to set us apart from other teams in the league. Were getting better, constantly, every day. Thats what were striving to do. Thats what we need to do to win games. Perhaps his outlook should include more gray with that black and white. Yes, this is the NFL. Results matter. Job security depends on the capital W. Fisher, a 17-year head-coaching veteran, wont pass out gold stars for effort anytime soon. But step back and consider his talent. The Rams cut checks to 17 rookies. About 60 percent of the roster is new. They lost by 12 points or more nine times last season. Last fall, most Sundays at the Edward Jones Dome stunk so bad that the stench lingered into Illinois. So close calls should receive value. Check boxes should include these questions before judgments are made: Is there progress under Fisher? Do players respond to his leadership? Are they competitive in the fourth quarter? Can they show an ability come back? The key is improving, Fisher said. As we went through the offseason and went through training camp we said, Were going to do everything we possibly can do to get ready for the start of the regular season. We didnt put all our eggs in the opener basket. So you just have to continue to get better, and I think we showed some improvement. There are many areas where the Rams can improve. Detroit had almost 200 more yards. Running back Steven Jackson strained to gain 53 yards on 21 carries. Quarterback Sam Bradford passed for 198 yards and a touchdown but looked shaky on occasion. And now offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer must adjust with center Scott Wells (fractured foot) and tackle Rodger Saffold (neck strain) out for significant time. Whatever the outcome in the months ahead, Week 1 was a surprise, a reason to reflect in such a way that became rare last year. It was a break from the purgatory of 2011. It was a reason to think that Fisher, with time, could steer a searching franchise in a respectable direction. We felt like we have guys in this locker room who can win games, Amendola said. We didnt do that. Its disappointing. We did some good things, but theres a lot of room for improvement. Step 1 of a rebuild? Change expectations. Youll never find a W in moral victory anyway. You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
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