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In terms of recognition, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense "hasn't earned it yet"

While playing against one of the best offenses in the NFL on a daily basis, the Steelers' defense knows they have a lot of work to do to gain some recognition around the league.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Don't think for a second the members of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense don't notice all the attention the team's offense receives. Websites routinely regard the offense as one of the NFL's best, and the list of playmakers on that side of the ball continues to be discussed on national media outlets on a regular basis.

Call it jealousy, or whatever you want, but the Steelers defense knows the success, or failures, of the 2016 team could rest on their collective shoulders.

"We compete against these guys every day," Cameron Heyward told Jason Mackey of "We want to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain. That means being the No. 1 defense. If we have the No. 1 defense and the No. 1 offense, I don't see how anybody can stop us."

The thought of a top offense and defense is something the Steelers faithful have never witnessed. In the early 2000s, it was the dominant defense which carried the team, while in most recent years it has been the offense who has buoyed a porous defense to the playoffs.

Now, having a top defense and offense on the same team is almost impossible in today's NFL, but the Steelers don't need the defense to be the top unit. Not saying it wouldn't be great to see, but if the team could just find a spot within the Top 10 overall defense rankings it would be a huge improvement from their 2015 version.

The Steelers have always been known for their defense. Dating back to "Mean" Joe Greene and the Steel Curtain, to the Blitzburgh defense of Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene and even the dominating units with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison. Defense has been Pittsburgh's calling card, and where the current crop of players aims to return.

"When we become the Steelers defense again, and play the caliber of defense we know we can play, then we'll get the recognition they [the offense] are," Ryan Shazier told Mackey. "They're the top offense in the NFL right now. We can't compare to all of the things they have done already.

"We haven't earned it yet."

Take a look at Shazier's interview with the press after the team's latest OTAs.

Listen closely to that interview and you can hear a player who has taken charge of the team's defense, and if the rest of the team is following Shazier's lead, confidence won't be an issue.

"I feel like we can be the No. 1 defense in the NFL," Shazier said. "We're a real fast defense. Everyone is starting to understand each other and work together. We've been with each other for a while now."

What might be even more telling than having the confidence to be the top defense in the league is realizing that it takes time for a group to be considered the best.

"The offense went through their lumps early on in their careers," Cam Heyward said. "You look at the early 2000s, and you have the most dominant defense ever. You have a lot of Hall-of-Famers, I think we have a lot of Hall-of-Famers on offense. Now it's time for the defense to be as good or better."

'Better' is certainly the operative word for the Steelers defense. Just improve. If they can improve their pass defense while continuing to stop the run, the defense might not be the best in the league, but certainly championship caliber.