The Australian’s squad finished a two-day training camp in Brighton yesterday – the last time they will meet before Jones announces his Six Nations squad on January 18.
England have that tournament, three Tests in South Africa and four autumn internationals before getting into World Cup year.
And Jones says this run of games – including a match against the All Blacks in November – and how they adapt will determine their fate in Japan.
Jones said: “2018 is when you win or lose a World Cup; your planning, preparation, and developing a team that is tough enough, resilient enough and adaptable enough to win a World Cup.
“The game is evolving. Defence is going to evolve over the next 24 months, sides have defended a certain way and that is going to change with some law interpretation changes. We want to be at the head of that queue of how you defend.
“Attack again will be a consequence of defence changing – you need to be able to attack in a number of ways. Defensively and attack-wise we’ve got some key areas we want to improve in.
“The game attack-wise has become really interesting.
“Thirty years ago eight forwards went to every breakdown, 10 years ago you had four forwards at every breakdown, three years ago you had three forwards at every breakdown. Now you want to win a breakdown, if you can, with a ball carrier plus one.
“That’s a whole new skill.”
Captain Dylan Hartley took a break from the pressures of Northampton’s dismal form to attend the camp.
The hooker was slated by England World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio in his commentary on Saints’ 50-21 collapse to Harlequins at the weekend.
Northampton got rid of director of rugby Jim Mallinder two weeks ago and Hartley has not led the side to a Premiership win since September 9.
Former England wing Austin Healey also weighed in, claiming Jones had four better hookers than the skipper at his disposal.
Dallaglio said Hartley’s form was not good enough for a club and national captain but Jones has dismissed that and looks likely to stand by his skipper for the Six Nations.
“It’s been a tough time for him,” said Jones. “When you are captain of a club that is struggling, a club that has just sacked their coach, it becomes a difficult time.
“That has been reflective of his play but as the very good players do – they compartmentalise things – and he’s done that terrifically well, come in and led with effervescence, trained well. He’s been good.
“As long as Dylan’s attitude is right, his body is right, he brings something to the table that we need at the moment and that is strong leadership.”
England kick off their Six Nations campaign, aiming for a third straight title, against Italy in Rome on February 4.