With man to man coverage, every defensive player is assigned an offensive player to cover.
In man to man, players cover other players based on:
Each defensive back and linebacker is assigned an offensive player to cover, with one of the two safeties providing help deep down the middle of the field if a defender fails to stay with their assignment.
REMEMBER: Defensive backs consist of a defensive unit's linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties.
Each defensive back and linebacker is assigned an offensive player to cover, with no help from the two safeties. In cover 0, both safeties often creep toward the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped in an attempt to blitz the quarterback and record a sack.
Each defensive back and linebacker is assigned an area of the field to cover rather than one singular opposing player. Cover 2 is designed to prevent deep completions, requiring the linebackers to cover short and intermediate routes while the cornerbacks and safeties are responsible for covering long pass attempts.
A common variation of the Cover 2 is known as the Tampa 2. This coverage drops a middle linebacker in between the safeties in the center of the field, while the other linebackers stay shallow to cover underneath routes.
Each defensive back and linebacker is assigned an area of the field to cover rather than one singular opposing player. The field is essentially split into thirds, with two linebackers covering short passes, two linebackers covering intermediate passes and cornerbacks and safeties covering deep passes.
This coverage seeks to prevent deep passes, allowing for short completions just beyond the line of scrimmage by requiring two linebackers to cover the middle of the field while the rest of the defenders in coverage drop back to cover deep zones.
Cover 6 is very similar to cover 4 and further tries to protect against long passes by dropping an additional linebacker into deep coverage and leaving two cornerbacks alone to defend against short and intermediate completions. This type of coverage is best suited for third and fourth down situations when the offense needs to pick up lots of yards in order to gain a first down and keep possession of the ball.