Whenever I think of KC's agile offensive line facing some of the NFL's behemoth defensive lines, I keep coming back in my mind to Alexander the Great and the Battle of Hydaspes. (See nifty slide show.) The use of lateral mobility against a stronger, but less agile foe is the most persistent and decisive feature of both the river crossing and the main battle on the other side. The battle on the other side relates more directly to football, although the crossing itself was the real attention-getter for history, and bears discussing, as well.
|Phalanx versus Elephants|
It all boils down to the fact that Alexander could go side-to-side quicker than the Parauvans (Indians (from India)), which gave him numerical advantages in places of his choosing on the battlefield, starting by ganging up on the cavalry on the enemy's left flank. Alexander used skirmishers (like British greencoats of Napoleonic era) to tie up the elephants, themselves - not so much killing them, although that did happen, but putting up thin screens of defenders that just made it hard for the elephants to move around. Let them win every skirmish, but lose little in the defeat and make 'em deal with MORE skirmishers, 'til they were worn out, but also kept away from the real bloodlettings your superior cavalry are inflicting
You can see how the Indians deployed them, by following the slideshow link. At the beginning, Alexander's phalanxes and cavalry both were no match for elephants head-to-head. They were, in fact, terrified (horses wouldn't go near 'em), and sustained heavy losses, whenever they were directly opposed by pachyderms. Sounds kind of like a certain football team I know
The lesson to be taken from what is possibly the finest bit of generalship in recorded history (The best captainships might be the early Israelites), was how the river crossing itself was achieved. Sending his cavalry up and down the river to great fanfare (pre-snap motion?), he wore out King Porus on the other side. Eventually, the Indian king gave up and just kept everybody squarely across the Hydaspes from the main (apparent) Macedonian (Greek) encampment. When Alexander made his move, he left a skeletron crew behind to keep the camp fires burning (An old Israelite trick that George Washington employed in the American Revolution, as well). You never see this in a football game, because the D will always shift in response to pre-snap motion. But the football analogy is the use of lateral movement to keep the elephants chasing, without ever letting them engage, until they're worn out.
And Alexander used a LOT of lateral mobility in the battle after the crossing. He sent his cavalry to the right flank, where they destroyed Porus's cavalry "in isolation," as we so often call it when a 3-on-1 somewhere on the field decides the outcome of the play.
The picture, above, shows an artist's conception of Alexander's phalanx taking on an elephant head-to-head. Very costly, and not what the Chiefs want to be doing all day long, although the Greeks discovered on the battlefield that pikes and well-placed arrows could blind or even destroy those pachyderms, and a blinded elephant is friend to neither side.
Now, in football, with both sides evenly matched in number, you can't send 8 guys after the one guy, and get anything done with the other 3. Nor do you use spears and arrows against defensive linemen - unfortunately. But lateral mobility up front and exceptional speed in the backfield means you don't have to. And that's what I think the Chiefs are building towards, with a ZBS featuring the likes of Rodney Hudson.
Sure, we want him to hold up face-to-face, but what we really want to see is our interior linemen avoiding the head-on conflict and trying to get outside of the other team's fatties, and getting a power play on the LBs and secondary outside the hashes.
By the end of games, we want those elephants worn out. And THEN maybe we'll get some action up the middle, same as Alexander did.