My take is this:
EJ sees international rugby as a risk business, hence the desire to pound the oppo with strong forwards so as to generate chances for the backs via having plenty of space - which = the kick-festing which has gone on, as it’s been all about territory & pressure via defence.
Obviously, when England’s forwards have been matched/mis-fired (e.g. Wales, Scotland especially), this Plan A falls apart and there is precious little Plan B (esp absent Manu), as the likes of Farrell, Ford and Daley (at 13 or 15) offer little running threat, especially when ball off-9 (the infamous Youngs’ 2-step) is considered. During some of the games in the last campaign, there was an undue urgency to shift the ball to the wings - almost like schoolboy rugby, with a dollop of hospital passes!
Personally, I’d take Ford over Farrell, as the former has more passing vision and plays closer to the gain line, plus both suffer the same in tackling.
When it comes to starters, I suspect Farrell will get to play 10, with Smith on the bench. I cannot see how Smith at 10 can play with Farrell outside him, as that would remove Smith’s fluidity and the pace on the ball.
I’d love to think Smith is the future, as England need more threats on the park but it would go against the grain for EJ given past approaches.
Another teasing question is who plays at 8, as Dombrandt and Smith seem to link-up very well.