Steelers offensive line should be given chance to grow into a unit because Alan Faneca isn't walking through that door

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Pittsburgh's offensive line faced a battle-tested and experienced defensive unit in the Chicago Bears in Week 3. The Bears didn't just instantly turn into one of the best all-around front 7 groups in football. They improved together. The Steelers' offensive line will do the same.

Odds are excellent you've seen the Adam Sandler movie "The Wedding Singer."

While absolutely nowhere near the level of Caddyshack, it finds itself in the same ballpark in terms of quotability. Everyone knows a "Wedding Singer" quote when they hear one.

One of the best features a drunken, rambling Steve Buscemi, the Best Man ("Better man!") at his brother's wedding.

"Why can't you be more like your brother? Harold would never beat up his landlord!"

The weak comparison being made in this trifle of a column is made to point out a concept probably more fit for an after-school special as opposed to the big screen. The Steelers - specifically, the ones playing - are not their counterparts.

It was easy to see, at this point in the season, this team isn't the ball-hawking takeaway machine the Chicago Bears are. The offensive line is not collectively the same sum as Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca, Jeff Hartings, Kendall Simmons and Max Starks.

With each passing year, injury and transaction, this team has lost another player with whom the team won three AFC Championships since 2005. It's getting further and further away from the identities of those teams.

The issue here isn't so much that their new identity is not in what those Steelers teams were, but rather, it doesn't have its own identity. Former Celtics coach Rick Pitino was fairly shredded by local and national media after a press conference tirade in 2000 when the expectations of living up to the past boiled over.

"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we're going to improve."

This isn't to suggest Steelers coach Mike Tomlin should remind fans what happened in the past should be expected today, but that's still the reality.

Later this morning, we will break down Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert, and point out that while he carries the weight of the ire generated by Steelers fans, his benching not only may have been premature, but it may have worked as well. Gilbert played much better in the second half. He's just easy to blame.

Mike Adams, also part of the new-found and slightly bizarre rotation system for the offensive tackles, didn't respond quite as positively, but that's exactly the point here. These are still young players. Whether that's something fans can accept is beside the point - their bad habits outweigh their good ones, until they've reached a point where their experience begins to outweigh their physical ability.

Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel was not a great player when he was 24 years old. Because of the veteran talent ahead of him, he was not required to play. The Steelers intentionally went with this younger line, and they're currently suffering the drawbacks of enduring a youth movement at any one position.

While fans may not have time for patience, fans are not ultimately in charge of the team. If this season ends up being the one step - or two steps - back its 0-3 start suggests it is, it'll be hard to convince most a complete overhaul of the management level as well as the roster isn't in order. But that's exactly the issue.

You don't always fight a fire by starting more fires. There's a time and place to intentionally clear away burnable area so the unstoppable fire doesn't spread to it. That purging fire leaves area on which new foundations can be built, but those foundations are not immediately available for use.

What the Steelers faced Sunday night is a pretty impressive defensive line. That defensive line has a few things the Steelers' offensive line does not, but nothing more than experience. They've taken their beats together, and they've feasted on those who do not have the shared bond of failure.

Hell, even Bird, McHale and Parish played together for years before becoming the dynasty they were.

Even if the equivalents of the Hall of Fame versions of those players won't be walking into the South Side facility today, Adams and Gilbert should be continuously challenged and tested, and their great physical skills should be continuously sharpened. The Steelers intentionally elected to face these challenges on a day-to-day basis, and they are only working with what they have.

As much joy as it would bring fans to have the disguised feeling of optimism by bringing in someone completely new, this franchise set this offensive line to play together for at least the stretch of games from 2013 to 2014. Three games together isn't enough time to write them off.

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