The reasons for the Bucs to bench running back LeGarrette Blount in favor of first-round pick Doug Martin are plentiful.

Blount had deminished returns in his second season in the league, following up an impressive 1,007-yard rookie season with 781 yards in 2011. He has a reputation as a poor pass blocker with suspect hands -- he had two drops last year -- and he has been fumble-prone in his two seasons in the league, putting the ball on the ground nine times. And if that's not enough, Blount's character issues have always been in question, dating back to his days at Oregon for the punch

Blount didn't help his reputation in his first two seasons with Tampa Bay, as his tardy ways earned him more than $15,000 in fines and forced the Bucs to hire a car service to wake him up in the morning and get him to team headquarters. The Bucs went to such drastic measures, because they didn't really have any better options.

The thinking around the league is that they gave themselves a better option by drafting Martin. Martin (5-9, 223 pounds) reminds new coach Greg Schiano of Ray Rice (5-8, 212 pounds), who was coached by Schiano at Rutgers. Martin doesn't have any documented character issues, caught 67 passes in his career at Boise State and is the back the team is more invested in -- the first-round pick is signed to a four-year deal. Blount is a restricted free agent in 2013.

So is there even a debate or a running back battle in Tampa?

Before handing the job to Martin, the Bucs should take a look at Blount's numbers last season and why they dropped off.

In Blount's rookie season in 2010, Tampa went 10-6 and either played from ahead or in close games every week. Last year, the Bucs played from behind often and got pass-happy. They had a 588-to-346 pass-to-run ratio and often went away from Blount early. And when Blount didn't get touches, his numbers dipped.

In the seven games that Blount had less than 13 carries, he averaged 2.8 yards per carry. In the seven games that Blount had 13 or more carries, he ran for 635 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

Those numbers are closer to Blount's production in his rookie year. Once Blount became the featured back in Week 7 in 2010, he averaged 19.1 carries per game, ran for 977 yards (a 5.1 yards per carry average) and had five touchdowns.

Tampa's problems on offense don't seem that complex.

Balance won in 2010: 494 pass attempts, 431 rushes and 10 wins.

Pass-happy lost in 2011: 242 more passing plays than rushes and 12 losses.

That also helps explain Josh Freeman's struggles and his 22 interceptions. Freeman would benefit from a return to balance in 2012 -- whether it's Blount or Martin doing the running, or both.

To his credit, Blount is trying to put his reputation as a bad seed, poor pass blocker and fumble-prone back behind him. He dropped some weight in the offseason, and according to Tampa beat writer Rick Stroud, he worked on improving his blocking and route running. He also has changed the way he holds the football in an effort to reduce fumbles, holding the ball high and tight similar to former Giant Tiki Barber.

Schiano said he's also been on time for offseason meetings and defended Blount's rep.

"No I think that probably got blown out of proportion a little bit," Schiano told Jim Rome last week. "He probably had some troubles, but I'm not really familiar with the facts. But that's all behind us. LeGarrette's been great. We've had workouts here -- OTAs, minicamps -- and he's been on time for everything. It hasn't been an issue at all. I don't foresee that being an issue."

The Bucs are certainly better off at running back as Martin should be a big upgrade over Earnest Graham, who backed up Blount last year. Martin was already taking first-team reps when the Bucs opened training camp on Friday, but like Blount, he enters the league as a suspect pass blocker (see his pre-draft evaluation) and will have to transition from going against Mountain West defenses to NFL defenses.

Blount, when given the carries, has proven he can be a successful back in the league.

Follow Bucs reporter Patrick Southern on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLTB.