What is coverage?  Coverage is the defense's basic scheme or formation to try and defend against a pass.  There are two basic types of coverage with some variations:

What is man-to-man coverage?

Man-to-man coverage means that each defensive back or linebacker is assigned to guard one offensive player.  This type of coverage is best for very quick defensive players, especially fast and athletic cornerbacks that can keep up with wide receivers. 



What is zone coverage?

Zone coverage means that each defensive player has been assigned to defend a particular area of the field instead of a particular player. In this coverage, the defenders have a head start, so they don't need to be quite so fast to keep toe-to-toe with wide receivers on their routes. Instead, they will keep their eyes on the quarterback and see if they can anticipate and stop passes from materializing.