"If we never drafted Mark Sanchez," Ryan said, "there would have been some major recruiting done. I can just say that. Absolutely. ... Maybe nobody knows it, but I can promise you that's how I was feeling."
Favre was very much on Ryan's mind Monday. The Jets are preparing to play the Minnesota Vikings on "Monday Night Football" in a matchup of last season's conference runners-up.
The game will be Favre's first return to the Meadowlands since he played his final game for the Jets in 2008.
Ryan had been on the job 23 days when Favre asked to be released from his contract so that he purportedly could retire. Ryan said he believed Favre's sincerity about retirement, but also was confident he could've persuaded Favre to return.
As the situation unfolded, however, Ryan didn't need to bother. He recalled a brief and awkward conversation with Favre the day the Jets terminated his contract, and that was all.
The Jets got their man in the draft, although Ryan also admitted their initial inclination -- before doing their due diligence through workouts and such -- was to draft Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, now of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I thought he was one of the best in the history of the game, still do," Ryan said of Favre. "You look at him, he makes all the throws at any arm angle. ... He is amazing, and he takes shots, and he keeps getting up. He's an ultimate competitor."
Favre's one season with the Jets was bipolar. He propelled them to an 8-3 start and then collapsed down the homestretch. He threw two touchdown passes and nine interceptions over their remaining five games.
The Jets didn't go to the playoffs. They fired head coach Eric Mangini and hired Ryan.
Favre's last two plays in a Jets uniform were an interception and an illegal forward pass.
"I'd say it worked out for Brett and the Jets," Ryan said. "We got a guy that is going to be a quarterback here for the next 10 years probably. Brett Favre's a great player. Last year, those statistics, I kept looking at it saying 'That can’t be right.' What did he throw, 30-some touchdowns and maybe six interceptions? The guy is a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback."