Pretty much since the day he took the job, there has been speculation that Jon Gruden would look to replace Derek Carr as the quarterback of the Raiders. Gruden tends to prefer stronger-armed quarterbacks, and he almost always tends to prefer players not on his roster to those he actually has on his team.
Even this past offseason, there was heavy speculation that the Raiders' Marcus Mariota signing meant that Carr's days as the starter were numbered. Instead, Carr has been under center for 100 percent of Las Vegas' snaps this year, and he's got the Raiders in the playoff mix with a 6-3 record, led by the league's ninth most efficient offense, per Football Outsiders' DVOA.
According to Gruden, Carr has been on a mission this season to prove that he's right where he belongs.
"He's all business. "He's on a mission right now to prove that he can be one of the top, if not the best, in football. That's what he's after," Gruden said, per the Fresno Bee. He continued, "I think he's on a mission to deliver his leadership, his play-making and his day-to-day consistency to this team. If you could see him here every day in these circumstances, you'd all be impressed with what he represents. I couldn't be happier having him as my quarterback."
Through nine games, Carr has completed 69.3 percent of his passes at an average of 7.6 yards per attempt, with 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. For the second consecutive season, he's checking in above-average in just about every rate statistic. He's inside the top-10 in QBR (ninth), DVOA (sixth), and pass EPA per play (eighth).
He doesn't have the volume of some of the league's best passers and he certainly doesn't have the explosiveness, but he's playing well by staying within his skill set, taking what the defense gives him, and moving on to the next play. That may not be the most exciting way to play quarterback, but if you stick to it, it works. Right now, it's working.