“We need to reset.”
But how might, or should, England change as they power down in the wake of a miserable Six Nations?
Here’s where it went wrong. And the fixes that could help.
This is a strange one.
England’s fast starts used to be a trademark. Underdog victories over Ireland and New Zealand in 2019 were built on precisely constructed, high-intensity opening salvos.
In fact, in every one of their five 2019 Six Nations games they scored the first try. On three occasions, their opening score came inside two minutes.
This season has been a very different story. England have conceded the first try in their past seven matches. They have scored only five first-half tries in this year’s Six Nations, three of which came against Italy.
In an age of scrutiny and opposition analysis, is Jones holding back some of England’s pre-cooked moves to be served with a flourish at the start of a contest that really matters? Or do England need a different dressing room voice to re-discover their early focused ferocity?
Sir Clive Woodward left England with a slew of acronyms, mottos and management gems in the wake of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
One to have stood the test of time is his emphasis on discipline. Woodward insisted his side keep their penalty count down to single figures in any given match.
England have not hit that target in any game in this year’s Six Nations, conceding a total of 67 penalties across their campaign.
England’s indiscipline has often come in quickfire bursts that shift the momentum of matches.
Against Wales, England had clawed their way back to within a score deep in the second half.
However, replacements Ellis Genge, Charlie Ewels and Dan Robson gave away a penalty each in the space of four minutes to take play from one end to the other and allow Callum Sheedy to kick Wales out of range.
England invited referees Wayne Barnes and Matt Carley into training to give them pointers on how to stay on the right side of the law.
Could switching the captaincy from Owen Farrell to a forward, where most penalties are conceded, sharpen England’s concentration?
England have conceded more points in this Six Nations – 121 – than any of the previous 21 editions of the competition.
Especially painful will have been the set-plays that both France and Ireland pulled to score off first-phase ball – a cardinal sin for the modern defence coach.
In the wake of Damian Penaud’s slick score off a line-out, France attack coach Laurent Labit went public with the weaknesses they had spotted in England, claiming they over-protect George Ford and that Henry Slade tends to turn in-field in defence.
In defence of the defence, England have conceded only two more tries than when they won the tournament in 2020. Indiscipline giving up more penalty shots at goal made up the majority of points against them.
Depth in key positions
England have a huge amount of experience.
The team that took the field against Ireland had 767 caps between them, an average of more than 50 each.
However, it comes at the cost of an imbalance. Many of the stand-ins, second choices and up-and-comers have seen little game time, particularly in key positions.
Scrum-half Ben Youngs, 31, has 109 caps. Understudy Dan Robson, 29, has just 12, all of which have come off the bench. The uncapped Harry Randall, and Ben Spencer – both younger options – have four caps between them.
At number eight Billy Vunipola is first choice whenever fit. Despite his self-confessed poor form, there is no obvious replacement specialist ready to step in.
Zach Mercer has given up hope and headed to France. Bristol’s Nathan Hughes sounds pessimistic on any hope of adding to his 22 caps. Exeter’s Sam Simmonds, the European player of the season, hasn’t played a Test for three years. Harlequins’ Alex Dombrandt never has.
Jones told BBC Sport earlier this month that the talent just isn’t there in some positions. Others would argue it isn’t being given a chance.
After more than five years of Jones’ reign, Manu Tuilagi has made only 14 starts for England.
But his absence is almost as big as his impact.
The injury-hit centre’s direct threat fixes defenders and frees up space for England’s dangerous back three.
His runs in the team have coincided with a near miss in the 2019 Six Nations, a run to the Rugby World Cup final, and the 2020 Six Nations title.
The combination of Owen Farrell and Henry Slade in midfield lacks the same punch and, with Ollie Lawrence and Paolo Odogwu afforded little, if any, game time, England seem to have lost a whole gameplan with one player sidelined.
Richie Mo’unga, Finn Russell and Matthieu Jalibert have brought more attacking threat at fly-half for New Zealand, Scotland and France respectively in recent years.
Harlequins’ Marcus Smith, or even Max Malins, could do similar if Jones decides to take the team in another direction.
The big question.
Jones extended his contract through to the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup less than a year ago, and set his sights even higher than securing England’s second world title in France.
“We want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen,” he said.
Such claims sound like unnecessary hubris rather than healthy ambition after defeats by Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the same springtime campaign for the first time since 1976.
From the best team in history to the worst in their own backyard.
Jones has denied that he is struggling to inspire his players.
But England is the longest stay in a coaching career that spans a quarter of a century and has been characterised by a work ethic that burns through assistants at a furious rate.
After guiding England to the Rugby World Cup final a little more than a year after six successive defeats and another fifth-place Six Nations finish, he will argue he should see his contract through.
The Rugby Football Union, which made a raft of job cuts in recent months, is unlikely to have any appetite to add Jones to the redundancies.
Adding a voice that brings specialist knowledge and helps bridge a generation gap between 61-year-old Jones and his players might be an option, however.
Paul O’Connell’s appointment at Ireland has helped both the team environment and line-out. Steve Borthwick, a similarly respected recent retiree, has not been properly replaced since he left in the summer.
Australian ex-league international Jason Ryles, who was due to step into Borthwick’s shoes, has stayed down under because of Covid restrictions with 28-year-old Jersey Reds coach Ed Robinson filling in on a temporary basis.