This is one you probably hear a lot on when watching games on TV. What exactly are these pundits with crazy ties and headsets talking about?
We should probably break this down further:
Secondary: a grouping of players on defense that have a primary responsibility of covering receivers in the passing game. The names of the positions in the secondary are corners, safeties, and sometimes Rovers or Nicklebacks.
Coverage: refers to the positioning and responsibilities of the secondary. A coverage can change as often as each play depending on the strategy of the defense and the strengths of the offense.
Cover 2: Is a specific coverage in which you typically will have 2 corners and 2 safeties like this:
C = Corner
SS = Strong Safety
FS = Free Safety
In Cover 2:
The 4 players involved are responsible for an area first and not a specific man from the offense. It is comparable to when you play zone defense in basketball. You occupy a specific space and guard whoever comes into your area but let them go if they leave your area and go into someone else’s. This is also helpful because when you are covering a zone rather than a person, you can also help more easily on a run play.
Corners: Each corner guards their side’s FLAT which is the area from the line of scrimmage, 10 yards deep, and towards the sidelines. You can see this dictated in the picture by the word FLAT.
Safeties: The safeties split the field into halfs and each guards their side. The goal is to have no one get deeper than they are and keep the receivers in front of them. You can see this in the picture with the SS and FS each having arrows pointing down and a 1/2 underneath them to tell us that each player needs to drop back and cover 1/2 the field.
Special Trick: When you hear the terms Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 4, you can immediately bring back your knowledge of fractions. Cover 1 means there is 1 person back cover the deep part of the field. Cover 2 means there are 2 that are cover ½ the field each. Cover 3 means there are 3 covering 1/3 the field each. Cover 4 means there are 4, covering ¼ the field each.